Teen Mothers and Risk of Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis

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A recent study published in the journal Menopause found that women who had their first babies during adolescent have significantly higher rates of Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis than older first-time mothers.  Researchers used data from a 2008 national health survey to analyze the rates of Osteoporosis in 719 Korean women.  Among the 719 women analyzed, 93 had their first babies around the age of 18.  The mothers who did not have babies in their teens were an average of 24 years of age when their first child was born.  Other risk factors affecting Osteoporosis were considered including smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity and use of post-menopausal hormones.

The study found that the rate of Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis was significantly higher (62.4%) in adolescent mothers than the rate in non-adolescent mothers (35.8%). One caveat to the study is the fact that socioeconomic and nutritional information reflected the subjects’ status during the menopausal period but not during adolescence.  Most of the women in the study would have been adolescents during the Second World War and the Korean War when access to nutritious food was severely limited in Korea.

A large percentage (approximately 40%) of a woman’s bone mass forms during her teen years.  Bone density decreases during pregnancy because of the calcium demands placed on the body by the developing fetus.  This could explain why the rates of Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis were found to be higher in the group of women who had their first child in their teens.  More research is needed on this topic.

If you are a post-menopausal women and had your first child during your teen years, you may want to talk to your Gynecologist about your risk factors for Osteoporosis.  He or she may recommend that you receive a bone mineral density test to screen for Osteoporosis.

Posted on the Behalf of Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.