Effect of parity on phalangeal bone mineral density in post-menopausal Sri Lankan women: a community based cross-sectional study


Sarath Lekamwasam, Center for Metabolic Bone Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Galle, 80000, Sri Lanka. E-mail: sarathlk@sltnet.lk


There is paucity of studies related to parity and bone mineral density in South Asian countries. We recruited 713 healthy, community dwelling post-menopausal women from seven provinces in Sri Lanka for this survey. The number of pregnancies, including miscarriages beyond 20 weeks of gestation, was recorded. Women with diseases and those who have taken drugs that can affect bone mineral density (BMD) were excluded (n = 15). Phalangeal BMD and bone mineral content (BMC) were measured using AccuDEXA in 713 women. Mean (SE) BMD of nulliparous women (= 32), women with one to two pregnancies (n = 284), three to four pregnancies (n = 290) and more than four pregnancies (n = 107) were 0.437(0.014), 0.454(0.005), 0.455(0.005) and 0.417(0.006) g/cm2, respectively (P < 0.001). Corresponding mean (SE) BMCs were 1.30(0.063), 1.41(0.021), 1.43(0.022) and 1.32(0.033) g, respectively (P < 0.001). Women with more than four pregnancies were older and lighter when compared with other groups. When results were adjusted for current age and current weight, differences in mean BMD and BMC between groups became non-significant. BMD of nulliparous women remained low in all analyses. We report a significant difference in unadjusted phalangeal BMD in women categorized according to their parity. Women with one to four pregnancies had the highest phalangeal BMD and BMC, while multi-parous (more than four pregnancies) and nulliparous women had lower values. However, in an adjusted analysis, the differences in BMD and BMC were partially explained by the differences of age and body weight between the groups and the unique effect of parity was difficult to determine. Women with lower BMD may have a higher risk of future fractures.