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Curr Womens Health Rep. 2003 Jun;3(3):193-8.

Breastfeeding and postmenopausal osteoporosis.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, One Robert Wood Johnson Place 372-MEB, PO Box 19, New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0019, USA.


Bone loss associated with osteoporosis occurs with high frequency among the elderly and often results in debilitating fractures. A combination of lifestyle behaviors, genetic predisposition, and disease processes contributes to bone metabolism. Therefore, any discussion regarding bone health must address these factors. The impact of menopause on bone turnover has been generally well studied and characterized. Breastfeeding places significant stress on calcium metabolism and, as a consequence, directly influences bone metabolism. The most significant factors affecting bone mineral density (BMD) and bone metabolism are the duration and frequency of lactation, the return of menses, and pre-pregnancy weight. Although transient, lactation is associated with bone loss. As clinical guidelines and public health policies are being formulated, there is a compelling need for further investigation into the relationship of lactation, BMD, and subsequent risk of osteoporosis. Better understanding of this relationship will provide new opportunities for early intervention and ultimately help in the prevention of bone loss in postmenopausal women.

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