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Keywords:

  • PARITY;
  • BREASTFEEDING;
  • HIP FRACTURE;
  • POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN;
  • BONE MINERAL DENSITY

Abstract

Despite reported bone loss during pregnancy and lactation, no study has shown deleterious long-term effects of parity or breastfeeding. Studies have shown higher bone mineral density and reduced risk for fracture in parous than in nulliparous women or no effect of parity and breastfeeding, so long-term effects are uncertain. We studied the effect of parity and breastfeeding on risk for hip, wrist and non-vertebral fragility fractures (hip, wrist, or proximal humerus) in 4681 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 94 years in the Tromsø Study from 1994–95 to 2010, using Cox's proportional hazard models. During 51 906 person-years, and a median of 14.5 years follow-up, 442, 621, and 1105 of 4681 women suffered incident hip, wrist, and fragility fractures, and the fracture rates were 7.8, 11.4, and 21.3 per 1000 person-years, respectively. The risk for hip, wrist, and fragility fracture did not differ between parous (n = 4230, 90.4%) and nulliparous women (n = 451, 9.6%). Compared with women who did not breast-feed after birth (n = 184, 4.9%), those who breastfed (n = 3564, 95.1%) had 50% lower risk for hip fracture (HR 0.50; 95% CI 0.32 to 0.78), and 27% lower risk for fragility fracture (HR 0.73; 95% CI 0.54 to 0.99), but similar risk for wrist fracture, after adjustment for age, BMI, height, physical activity, smoking, a history of diabetes, previous fracture of hip or wrist, use of hormone replacement therapy, and length of education. Each 10 months longer total duration of breastfeeding reduced the age-adjusted risk for hip fracture by 12% (HR 0.88; 95% CI 0.78 to 0.99, p for trend = 0.03) before, and marginally after, adjustment for BMI and other covariates (HR 0.91; 95% CI 0.80 to 1.04). In conclusion, this data indicates that pregnancy and breastfeeding has no long-term deleterious effect on bone fragility and fractures, and that breastfeeding may contribute to a reduced risk for hip fracture after menopause. © 2011 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research