PhotoThe age at which your baby takes those first wobbly steps is worth taking note of; it could predict bone health later in life, scientists say.

A new UK study has found that toddlers who can walk, run, and jump by the time they are 18 months old may have stronger bones when they’re older.

Following the examination of data from 2,327 children who took part in a lifelong study of health and wellbeing called "Children of the 90s," researchers concluded that children who could control movements such as walking, running, and jumping at 18 months had stronger bones as teenagers compared to children who walked later.

The link between early movements and stronger bones in adolescence could aid in identifying those who are at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis, thinning bones, or fractures, suggests lead researcher Dr. Alex Ireland of the Manchester Metropolitan School of Healthcare Science in England.

Ireland says the findings reveal a link which was not previously understood -- one that could help medical practitioners “devise prevention and coping strategies.”

More activity, stronger muscles

Ireland and his colleagues explain that more activity as a toddler translates to stronger muscles and, subsequently, stronger bones later in life.

“Being more active gives you stronger muscles which can then apply bigger forces to the bones as we walk, run or jump, helping to strengthen bones as we grow older,” Ireland said in a statement.

He adds that the likelihood of attaining movement skills early could be improved by parent-led walking practices at home.

More pronounced in males

The study assessed each participant’s movement at 18 months of age, then measured the size, shape, and mineral density of their hip and shin bone at 17 years of age.

Upon finding that the association between early walking and stronger bones was more pronounced in males, the authors surmise that early movement may not play a significant role in female bone strength.

The findings were published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

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