Bone Density

Maternal health research

These studies explore the effects of breastfeeding on mothers’ bone health.

Lactation may protect the bone health of adolescent mothers

This study suggested that whilst adolescent mothers might be more vulnerable to bone mineral density loss than adult mothers, breastfeeding by adolescent mothers was associated with greater BMD in the proximal femur during young adulthood.

Caroline J. Chantry et al (2004). Lactation Among Adolescent Mothers and Subsequent Bone Mineral Density. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 158:650-656 (Full text)

Pregnancy and lactation have no long-term deleterious effect on bone mineral density measures in healthy women

Researchers in Australia investigating the possible deleterious long-term effects of pregnancy and lactation on bone mineral density have found that women who breastfed have higher adjusted total-body bone mineral content, total-hip bone mineral density, and lower fat mass than did parous non-breastfeeders.

Paton LM et al (2003). Pregnancy and lactation have no long-term deleterious effect on measures of bone mineral in healthy women: a twin study. Am J Clin Nut 77: 707-14

Breastfeeding does not result in a net loss of bone density in mothers

These studies found that lactating women lost significantly more bone mineral content and density in the total body and lumbar spine than did non-lactating women during the first 6 months postpartum. There was no effect of lactation on bone changes at the distal radius. After weaning, lactating women gained significantly more bone in the lumbar spine than did non-lactating women (5.5 versus 1.8%). Earlier resumption of menses was associated with a smaller loss of bone during lactation and a greater increase of bone after weaning. The authors concluded that lactation may not result in net bone loss.

Kalkwarf HJ, Specker BL (1995) Bone mineral loss during lactation and recovery after weaning. Obstet Gynecol 86: 26-32

Kalkwarf HJ (1999) Hormonal and dietary regulation of changes in bone density during lactation and after weaning in women. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia 4: 319-29

Related research and further reading

The impact of breastfeeding on maternal and child health: Acta Paediatrica special issue

Read more

The Lancet: Increasing breastfeeding worldwide could prevent over 800,000 child deaths every year

Read more

Maternal Health Research: Meta-analyses

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