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UC Davis study finds breastfeeding may protect bones in teen-age mothers

(Sacramento, CA) --Teen-age mothers are in no danger of sacrificing their own nutritional health if they choose to breastfeed their babies, according to a study by pediatricians at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center.

The study, funded by the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, is being presented April 30 at the annual joint meeting of the 2001 Pediatric Academic Societies and American Academy of Pediatrics in Baltimore, Md.

Maternal bone mineral density typically decreases during breastfeeding although levels are replenished once the child is weaned. For teen-age mothers who are still developing bone mass at an accelerated rate, some evidence indicates they may experience a larger decrease in bone mineral density than do adult breastfeeding mothers. The long-term effects of that decrease were unknown, but the UC Davis study shows that teen-age mothers who breastfed had no signs of bone loss when studied an average of nearly three years after their last childbirth.

"Teen-age mothers are still growing and developing," said Caroline Chantry, UC Davis assistant professor of pediatrics, who authored the study. "Recognizing the nutritional demands of a baby who is breastfeeding, I wanted to look at how lactation specifically affects the teens bone health later in life, as compared to teen-age moms who did not breastfeed and to adults who have not had children." Teens currently are less likely to breastfeed than adult mothers, Chantry said, partly because of myths surrounding its impact on the young mothers.

The UC Davis study found that the bone mineral density of mothers who breastfed as teens is, in fact, stronger once breastfeeding is concluded than in those who did not breastfeed.

"Until now, we really werent sure whether the bones of a breastfeeding adolescent could recover from the nutritional rigors of breastfeeding, but the results indicate that lactation may actually protect a teenagers bone health," said Chantry. "This finding, cou
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Contact: Martha Alcott
martha.alcott@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9027
University of California, Davis - Health System
30-Apr-2001


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