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Pregnancy and lactation have no long-term deleterious effect on measures of bone mineral in healthy women: a twin study

journal contribution
posted on 2003-03-01, 00:00 authored by L Paton, J Alexander, Caryl NowsonCaryl Nowson, Claire MargerisonClaire Margerison, M Frame, B Kaymakci, J Wark
BACKGROUND: The long-term effects of pregnancy and lactation on measures of bone mineral in women remain unclear.

OBJECTIVE: We studied whether pregnancy or lactation has deleterious long-term effects on bone mineral in healthy women.

DESIGN: We measured bone mineral density (BMD; g/cm(2)) in women aged > or = 18 y. Analyses were performed on 3 data sets: study 1, 83 female twin pairs (21 monozygous and 62 dizygous) aged (x +/- SD) 42.2 +/- 15.5 y who were discordant for ever having been pregnant beyond 20 wk; study 2, 498 twin pairs aged 42.3 +/- 15.0 y; and study 3, 1354 individual twins, their siblings, and family members.

RESULTS: In study 1, there were no significant within-pair differences in unadjusted BMD or BMD adjusted for age, height, and fat mass at the lumbar spine or total-hip or in total-body bone mineral content (BMC; kg) (paired t tests). In study 2, there was no significant within-pair difference in measures of bone mineral or body composition related to the within-pair difference in number of pregnancies. In study 3, subjects with 1 or 2 (n = 455) and > or = 3 pregnancies (n = 473) had higher adjusted lumbar spine BMD (2.9% and 3.8%, respectively; P = 0.001) and total-body BMC (2.2% and 3.1%; P < 0.001) than did nulliparous women (n = 426). Parous women who breast-fed had higher adjusted total-body BMC (2.6%; P = 0.005), total-hip BMD (3.2%; P = 0.04), and lower fat mass (10.9%; P = 0.01) than did parous non-breast-feeders.

We found no long-term detrimental effect of pregnancy or breast-feeding on bone mineral measures.



American journal of clinical nutrition






707 - 714


American Society for Clinical Nutrition


Bethesda, MD







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2003, American Society for Clinical Nutrition