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Associations Between Breastfeeding History and Early Postmenopausal Bone Loss

de Bakker CMJ1Burt LA1Gabel L1Hanley DA1Boyd SK2.

Calcif Tissue Int. 2019 Nov 30. doi: 10.1007/s00223-019-00638-6. [Epub ahead of print]




This study aimed to evaluate associations of parity and breastfeeding history with postmenopausal bone loss. Early postmenopausal women from the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study were divided into three groups based on their reproductive histories: nulliparous (NP, n = 10), parous with < 6 months breastfeeding (P-NBF, n = 14), and parous with > 6 months breastfeeding (P-BF, n = 21). Women underwent dual X-ray absorptiometry and high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography imaging at baseline and after 6 years to evaluate bone mineral density (BMD), bone microstructure, and finite element-estimated failure load. Average age at baseline was 57 years. Baseline density, microstructure, and failure load were not different among groups. In all women, total and cortical BMD decreased significantly at the tibia and radius. P-BF women only experienced a significant decline in tibial trabecular BMD, with a greater magnitude of change for P-BF than NP women (p = 0.002). Overall, results suggest that early postmenopausal bone health did not differ based on parity or breastfeeding history. Over the 6-year follow-up period, postmenopausal bone loss was evident in all women, with subtle differences in the rate of postmenopausal change among women with varying breastfeeding histories. Parous women who had breastfed for at least 6 months showed an elevated rate of trabecular BMD loss at the tibia. Meanwhile, correlation analyses suggest that longer durations of breastfeeding may be associated with reduced cortical bone loss at the radius. The lack of differences among groups in FE-derived failure load suggests that parity and breastfeeding history is unlikely to significantly affect postmenopausal risk of fracture.