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Breastfeeding can lead to temporary bone loss.

Women who breastfeed for over six months suffer significant loss of bone calcium, but seem to begin recovering by 12 months after giving birth, says a new study. The lead researcher said the findings raise concerns about the health of teen-age and poor mothers in developing countries, but not for adult American women. "Our findings may be particularly significant for underdeveloped countries, where nutrition may be inadequate," said researcher MaryFran R. Sowers.

The study, published in the June 29, 1993 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, tracked 98 women aged 20 to 40. All were healthy and ate adequate amounts of calcium.

Researchers used x-rays to test the density of the women's bones two weeks and two, four, six and 12 months after their babies' births. Two weeks after birth, there was no difference in bone density between the breastfeeding women and bottlefeeding women, the study found. But after six months, those women still breastfeeding had mineral loss averaging 5.1 percent from the spine and 4.8 percent from the femur.

By the study's end one year after birth, those women who had weaned their babies at nine months or earlier had regained normal bone density, the study found. Women who nursed beyond nine months had regained some of their bone density. But more research is needed to follow-up on the long term recovery of women who breastfeed for periods longer than nine months.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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