High Parity is Associated with Increased Bone Size and Strength

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Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Biomechanical Phenomena, Bone Density, Bone and Bones, Breast Feeding, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diet, Female, Femur Neck, Hip, Humans, Lumbar Vertebrae, Middle Aged, Parity, Pregnancy


Some, but not all, studies report an association between decreased hip fracture risk and high parity despite similar bone mineral density (BMD). Our hypothesis was that bone size, a major determinant of bone strength, is greater in women with high parity compared with low parity or nulliparous women. A cross-sectional study of 168 Hutterite women aged 40–80 years was conducted. BMD, bone mineral content (BMC) and bone area of the total body (TB), hip, femoral neck (FN), and lumbar spine (LS) were measured, as well as bone geometry at the 4% and 20% distal radius and bending strength at 20% radius. Diet and activity recall and strength measurements were obtained. Of the 168 women, 42 (25%) were nulliparous while the remaining women reported 1 to 16 births (median=6). Of the 126 parous women, 122 (97%) breast-fed their infants (range 1.5–24 months). Hip, FN and LS BMD were not associated with either parity or months of breast-feeding. TB BMC and bone area (both, p <0.05) and FN bone area ( p <0.01) were associated with parity. FN bone area was 4% greater in women with 7+ vs 1–4 children. Torsional bending strength, which includes structural and material bone properties, at the 20% distal radius was greater with higher parity ( p =0.01). No bone measure was associated with average months of breast-feeding. High parity is associated with increased radial torsional bending strength and femoral neck size. The greater femoral neck size, without higher BMD, may explain the reduced hip fracture risk among women with high parity previously reported in some studies.

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Osteoporosis International





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