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Breastfeeding and Osteoporosis Fractures in Females

Does it or doesn’t it? You know, the decade’s old question of-Does the natural bone remodeling after weaning make the bones stronger to prevent osteoporosis?

No one is disputing that a breastfeeding woman who is not ovulating decreases her bone density by 5-10% (that’s a lot!).  When the same woman begins menstruating, her bones regain strength. It was thought that breastfeeding might protect against osteoporosis after menopause because maybe that remodeling during weaning makes the bones stronger. Or so we hoped.

Breastfeeding has been through the wringer when it comes to its role in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Some evidence has shown that breastfeeding protects from osteoporosis, some studies indicate breastfeeding is actually a risk factor for postmenopausal osteoporosis, and some studies have shown no effect from breastfeeding.

The authors of this meta- analysis reviewed 911 articles. Twelve articles with a total of 14,954 participants met their criteria to evaluate the effect of breastfeeding on osteoporosis. They found that breastfeeding reduces the risk of fractures from osteoporosis. They calculated a 0.9% reduction of any fracture from osteoporosis for each month of breastfeeding. More specifically, there is a 1.2% decreased risk of hip fracture for every month of breastfeeding.

According to the authors, how does a breastfeeding mother’s physiology help protect her from bone fractures after menopause?

  1. Women who are breastfeeding increase their gut absorption of calcium from their diet.
  2. Women who are breastfeeding decrease their calcium losses in urine.
  3. Women who nurse for a prolonged time have higher osteocalcin levels, which is a hormone that helps build new bone.
  4. All of the above

For the answer click here