Osteoporosis International

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 257–265 | Cite as

Association between prolonged breastfeeding and bone mineral density and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: KNHANES 2010-2011

  • I. R. Hwang
  • Y. K. Choi
  • W. K. Lee
  • J. G. Kim
  • I. K. Lee
  • S. W. KimEmail author
  • K. G. ParkEmail author
Original Article



This study showed that a negative correlation between duration of breastfeeding and bone mineral density (BMD) in the lumbar spine and prolonged breastfeeding is an independent risk for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The present study suggests that postmenopausal women with a history of prolonged breastfeeding require more careful screening for osteoporosis.


Several studies suggest that breastfeeding and childbirth lead to maternal calcium loss and a decline in BMD. While the association between breastfeeding and BMD immediately after weaning is well-established, the effects of breastfeeding on postmenopausal women have been controversial. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of breastfeeding on bone mineral density (BMD) and the prevalence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.


The present study was a cross-sectional survey based on the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) 2010 and 2011 data. The association between breastfeeding and BMD and osteoporosis was examined in 1222 postmenopausal women.


The duration of breastfeeding and BMD in the lumbar spine showed a negative correlation. The association between duration of breastfeeding and BMD remained significant after adjustment for reproductive factors and other confounding factors (P = 0.008). However, the number of deliveries and age at the time of delivery did not correlate with BMD at any site after adjustment. Moreover, the prevalence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women with a history of prolonged breastfeeding was significantly higher than that in women with a short history of breastfeeding (≥37 months, OR = 3.292; 95 % CI 1.485–7.299). The prevalence of lumbar spine fracture showed a significant increasing trend with the increase in the duration of breastfeeding.


Prolonged breastfeeding was significantly associated with low BMD in the lumbar spine and higher prevalence of osteoporosis. However, the number of deliveries or age at the time of childbirth did not influence BMD.


Bone mineral density Breastfeeding Osteoporosis Postmenopausal women 



We thank all participants for enthusiastically participating in this study.

Grant support

This work was supported by Biomedical Research Institute grant, Kyungpook National University Hospital (2014).

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal MedicineKyungpook National University School of MedicineDaeguSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Preventive MedicineKyungpook National University School of MedicineDaeguSouth Korea

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