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Bone. 2011 Apr 1;48(4):755-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2010.11.016. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Proximal femur structural geometry changes during and following lactation.

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  • 1MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK. patricia.beer@mrc-hnr.cam.ac.uk


Human lactation is associated with transient decreases in bone mineral density (BMD). Bone strength is related to both mass and structural geometry. This study investigated longitudinal changes of hip bone strength during lactation using hip structural analysis (HSA), which determines hip structural geometry (including areal BMD, BMDa) from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans (DXA). Forty-eight lactating women were studied longitudinally at the proximal femur using DXA at approximately 2 weeks postpartum, peak-lactation and post-lactation. Nonpregnant, nonlactating women (NPNL, n=23) were studied concurrently at baseline and after 1 year. Hip scans were analysed using HSA at the narrow neck, intertrochanter and proximal shaft. No significant change (>0.05) was observed in NPNL women for any measurement. In contrast, for lactating women BMDa decreased significantly from 2 weeks postpartum to peak-lactation at narrow neck (-2.8%), intertrochanter (-3.2%) and shaft (-1.4%). Cross-sectional area (CSA) decreased at narrow neck (-3.4%) and intertrochanter (-2.7%). There were no significant changes in bone width. Section modulus decreased at intertrochanter (-2.1%). At shaft, cortical thickness decreased (-1.7%) and buckling ratio increased (2.3%). By post-lactation, measurements were not significantly different from 2 weeks postpartum except for decrements in BMDa (-1.1%) and CSA (-1.2%) at the shaft. During the study, lactating women lost 5% of their body weight. Adjusting for weight changes decreased the magnitude and significance of HSA changes at peak-lactation and by post-lactation there were no significant differences from 2 weeks postpartum. Calcium intake was not a significant predictor of changes in HSA variables. In conclusion, lactation is associated with significant but transient changes in hip BMD and structural geometry. Changes in body weight but not calcium intake were associated with these changes. These small changes at the hip during lactation occurred mainly at internal surfaces and had minimal impact on bending or compressive strength.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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