Knee alignment and individual quadriceps femoris muscle thicknesses and their relationships with postnatal motor development and subcutaneous fat thickness: A cross-sectional study in Japanese infants


      • The rectus femoris thickness ratio decreased from 1 to 3 years of age.
      • The vastus medialis thickness ratio increased from 2 to 3 years of age.
      • Subcutaneous fat thickness increased intercondylar distance at age 3.
      • Subcutaneous fat thickness decreased vastus medialis thickness ratio at age 3.
      • These relationships should be investigated in each generation.



      Postnatal changes in individual quadriceps femoris muscle thicknesses and the relationships between knee alignment and quadriceps thicknesses, postnatal motor development, and subcutaneous fat thickness are unclear. This study investigated knee alignment and individual quadriceps thickness ratios in Japanese infants and investigated their relationships with postnatal motor development and subcutaneous fat thickness.


      One-year-old (n = 28), 2-year-old (n = 26), and 3-year-old infants (n = 22) were included. Postnatal months when the infants began crawling, standing, and walking were assessed. The intercondylar distance was measured, and the individual quadriceps and subcutaneous fat thicknesses at the right mid-thigh were measured using ultrasonography. The individual quadriceps:total quadriceps muscle thickness ratios were calculated. Analysis of variance tests in the 3 groups were conducted for the intercondylar distances and individual quadriceps thickness ratios, and correlation coefficients between the parameters were evaluated in each group.


      Intercondylar distance was longer in 1-year-old infants than in 2-year-old infants (p < 0.001), without significant differences between 2-year-old and 3-year-old infants (p = 0.33). The rectus femoris thickness ratio was higher in 1-year-old infants than in 3-year-old infants (p = 0.013), whereas the vastus medialis thickness ratio was higher in 3-year-old infants than in 2-year-old infants (p = 0.024). In 3-year-old infants, a larger subcutaneous fat thickness, but not postnatal motor development, was correlated with a longer intercondylar distance and a lower vastus medialis thickness ratio (rs = 0.53, p = 0.012; rs = −0.46, p = 0.032, respectively).


      Further studies on the relationships between subcutaneous fat and knee alignment and vastus medialis in juveniles, adolescents, young adults, and elderly people are expected.


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