It is well known that deprivation affects bone growth. The study was set up to investigate what aspects of deprivation are of greatest importance. Bone ages of 1593 child trauma patients aged 0-19 years from Middlesbrough General Hospital, Cleveland, were related to local authority ward indices of socioeconomic status (51 wards). After adjustment for chronological age and sex, the mean bone ages in each ward were highly significantly negatively associated with five ward indices of deprivation: the rate of single parent families, low care ownership, unemployment, rented housing, and overcrowding. There was a mean four month deficit in bone age among children living in wards with the highest single parent family rates. The inverse association between deprivation and bone age is unlikely to be causal throughout childhood, as older and younger children were affected to the same extent. However the bone age deficit could be caused by deprivation retarding skeletal maturation during a critical period in early life.
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