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Bone. 2004 Mar;34(3):570-8.

Recovery of pregnancy mediated bone loss during lactation.

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  • 1Department of Medical Physics, City Hospital, Nottingham, UK.


It is uncertain whether bone is routinely mobilised during pregnancy to provide calcium for the fetus and whether this is of a magnitude to cause osteoporosis. We have made sequential measurements of lumbar spine and hip bone mineral density (BMD) in 60 normal women before conception and then during the subsequent pregnancy out to one year after delivery. During pregnancy there was a significant fall in the BMD at the spine (1.53%), total hip (1.15%), and trochanter (3.90%) but not at the femoral neck. After delivery the women who breast-fed (n=34) showed a significant fall in BMD at all measurement sites (P<0.001) with the greatest change at the spine (4.7 +/- 3.1%) with 38% of women showing a change >5%. The women who bottle fed (n=10) increased or maintained BMD at all sites with the mixed feeders (n=16) showing an intermediate response. There was no consistent relationship between the change during pregnancy and lactation but 47% of the breast-feeders lost >5% at either the lumbar spine or trochanter. There was a good correlation between the change in BMD at these two sites (r=0.48, P<0.001). At 1 year after delivery all but 7 women had returned to within 5% of the preconceptual value at the spine and trochanter but the recovery at the total hip was less complete. Several women became transiently osteoporotic (T score below -2.5) at either spine or hip during reproduction of whom three started pregnancy with a normal BMD.

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