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Osteoporos Int. 2001;12(9):732-7.

The effects of pregnancy and lactation on bone mineral density.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary.


We performed a prospective study of bone mineral density (BMD) in 38 women during their first full-term pregnancy until 12 months postpartum. BMD measurements at lumbar spine [L2-L4 (LS)] and forearm [distal 33% (RD) and ultradistal (RUD) region of the radius] were made within 3 months before conception, after delivery, and at 6 and 12 months postpartum. In mid-pregnancy the DXA examination was carried out only at the forearm. Patients were grouped according to duration of lactation as group I, II or III (0-1, 1-6, 6-12 months respectively). During pregnancy there was a significant difference between baseline and delivery (p< 0.001) in the LS, RUD and RD BMD values. In group I there was no statistically significant difference in LS BMD between visits following pregnancy. The RUD BMD loss was recovered by 6 months postpartum (PP6). Group II showed continuous bone loss from delivery until PP6 at LS and RUD. In group III the LS BMD loss continued throughout the lactation period. The RUD BMD dropped (4.9%) until PP6 then increased by 3.0% as measured at 12 months postpartum (PP12). There was no significant change in RD BMD in any of three groups during lactation. At LS bone loss between delivery and PP12 correlated well with the duration of lactation (r = -0.727; p<0.001). We suggest that calcium needed for fetal skeletal growth during pregnancy was gained from maternal trabecular and cortical sites and that calcium needed for infant growth during lactation was drawn mainly from the maternal trabecular skeleton in our patients. The effect of pregnancy and lactation on the maternal bone mass was spontaneously compensated after weaning.

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