Calcium and bone metabolism during pregnancy and lactation

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2005 Apr;10(2):105-18. doi: 10.1007/s10911-005-5394-0.


Pregnancy and lactation both place significant demands on the mother to provide sufficient calcium (among other minerals and nutrients) to the fetus and neonate. Despite facing similar demands for calcium during pregnancy and lactation, the maternal adaptations differ significantly between these two reproductive periods. Women lose 300 to 400 mg of calcium daily through breast milk, and this calcium demand is met by a 5-10% loss of skeletal mineral content during 6 months of exclusive lactation. Most importantly, the lost mineral is fully restored within a few months of weaning, such that women who have breastfed do not have a long-term deficit in skeletal mineral content. This article will review our present understanding of the adaptations in mineral metabolism that occur during pregnancy and lactation, and will focus on recent evidence that the breast itself plays a central role in regulating the adaptations during lactation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*


  • Calcium