DÄ internationalArchive40/2009Growth and Puberty in German Children: Is There Still a Positive Secular Trend? In reply

Correspondence

Growth and Puberty in German Children: Is There Still a Positive Secular Trend? In reply

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(40): 656; DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2009.0656b

Wölfle, J

LNSLNS The correspondent mentions a possible influence of cow’s milk consumption in early childhood on longitudinal growth. As outlined in our paragraph on nutrition, an association between protein and calcium intake and the secular trend of longitudinal growth has been discussed earlier (1). However, such an association between nutritive factors and the secular trend in body height has been assumed not only for a diet rich in cow’s milk but also for other food components, such as essential fatty acids and amino acids, vitamins, etc (2). The proposed mechanisms for how cow’s milk might influence longitudinal growth in early childhood are interesting but remain vastly speculative. Although animal experiments have suggested that the quantity and quality of early childhood nutrition may influence the expression of components of the growth hormone-IGF-1 axis in the long term, this modulation of the axis can also be explained with an isolated influence on the quantities of food of breastfed animals (3). A monocausal explanation of the phenomenon that is the secular trend of longitudinal growth, by means of specific nutritional components such as the extent of cow’s milk intake, is thus likely to be too reductionist. To sum up, there are many factors—both newly identified and well known—that may have a role in the secular change in longitudinal growth. For most of the suggested candidates, however, the question remains unanswered as to how and in which way they may be causally associated with the secular trend in longitudinal growth.
DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2009.0656b


PD Dr. med. Joachim Wölfle
Pädiatrische Endokrinologie und Diabetologie,
Universitätskinderklinik Bonn
Adenauerallee 119, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Conflict of interest statement
The authors of both contributions declare that no conflict of interest exists according to the Guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.
1.
Gohlke B, Wölfle J: Growth and puberty in German children: Is there still a positive secular trend? [Größenentwicklung und Pubertät bei deutschen Kindern – Gibt es noch einen positiven säkularen Trend?] Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(23): 377–82.
2.
Allen & Uauy: Guidelines for the study of mechanisms involved in the prevention or reversal of linear growth retardation in developing countries. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994: 48, Suppl. 1, 212–6.
3.
Kappeler L, De Magalhaes Filho C et al.: Early postnatal nutrition determines somatotropic function in mice. Endocrinology 2009; 150(1): 314–23
1. Gohlke B, Wölfle J: Growth and puberty in German children: Is there still a positive secular trend? [Größenentwicklung und Pubertät bei deutschen Kindern – Gibt es noch einen positiven säkularen Trend?] Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(23): 377–82.
2. Allen & Uauy: Guidelines for the study of mechanisms involved in the prevention or reversal of linear growth retardation in developing countries. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994: 48, Suppl. 1, 212–6.
3. Kappeler L, De Magalhaes Filho C et al.: Early postnatal nutrition determines somatotropic function in mice. Endocrinology 2009; 150(1): 314–23