Calcium economy in human pregnancy and lactation

Hanna Olausson, Gail R. Goldberg, M. Ann Laskey, Inez Schoenmakers, Landing M. A. Jarjou, Ann Prentice

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Pregnancy and lactation are times of additional demand for Ca. During pregnancy, Ca is transferred across the placenta for fetal skeletal mineralisation, and, during lactation, Ca is supplied to the mammary gland for secretion into breast milk (Figs. 1(a) and (b)). Most fetal Ca accretion takes place during the second half of pregnancy; the accretion rate is about 50 mg/d at 20 weeks of gestation and increases to about 330 mg/d at 35 weeks(Reference Forbes1). The infant contains about 20–30 g Ca at birth(Reference Prentice and Bates2). On average, about 200 mg Ca/d is secreted into breast milk at peak lactation, and can be as much as 400 mg/d in some individuals(Reference Prentice, Pettifor, Juppner and Glorieux3). In theory, this additional maternal requirement for pregnancy and lactation could be met through mobilisation of Ca from the skeleton, increased intestinal Ca absorption efficiency, enhanced renal Ca retention or greater dietary Ca intake. The extent to which any or all of these apply, the underpinning biological mechanisms and the possible consequences for maternal and infant bone health in the short and long term are the focus of the present review. The complexities in the methodological aspects of interpreting the literature in this area are highlighted. The inter-individual variation in the response to pregnancy and lactation is also reviewed, with particular attention given to the influences of maternal Ca intake and vitamin D status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-67
Number of pages28
JournalNutrition Research Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2012

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