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Toddlers: Ages 1 through 3 Years

The greater velocity of growth in height during ages 1 through 3 years compared with ages 4 through 5 years provides a biological basis for dividing this period of life. Because children in the United States and Canada from age 4 years onwards begin to enter the public school system, ending this life stage prior to age 4 years seemed appropriate. Data are sparse for indicators of nutrient adequacy on which to derive DRIs for these early years of life. In some cases, DRIs for this age group were derived from data extrapolated from studies of infants or of adults aged 19 years and older.

Early Childhood: Ages 4 through 8 Years

Because major biological changes in velocity of growth and changing endocrine status occur during ages 4 through 8 or 9 years (the latter depending on onset of puberty in each gender), the category of 4 through 8 years is appropriate. For many nutrients, a reasonable amount of data is available on nutrient intake and various criteria for adequacy (such as nutrient balance measured in young children ages 5 through 7 years) that can be used as the basis for the EARs and AIs for this life stage group.

Puberty/Adolescence: Ages 9 through 13 Years and 14 through 18 Years

Because current data support younger ages for pubertal development, it was determined that the adolescent age group should begin at 9 years. The mean age of onset of breast development (Tanner Stage 2) for white females in the United States is 10.0 ± 1.8 (standard deviation) years; this is a physical marker for the beginning of increased estrogen secretion (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997). In African-American females, onset of breast development is earlier (mean 8.9 years ± 1.9). The reason for the observed racial differences in the age at which girls enter puberty is unknown. The onset of the growth spurt in girls begins before the onset of breast development (Tanner, 1990). The age group of 9 through 13 years allows for this early growth spurt of females.

For males, the mean age of initiation of testicular development is 10.5 to 11 years, and their growth spurt begins 2 years later (Tanner, 1990). Thus, to begin the second age category at 14 years and to have different EARs and AIs for females and males for some nutrients at this age seems biologically appropriate. All children continue



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