Faster Lumbar Spine Bone Loss in Midlife Predicts Subsequent
Bone mineral density (BMD) decreases rapidly during menopause transition (MT), and continues to decline in postmenopause.

This work aims to examine whether faster BMD loss during the combined MT and early postmenopause is associated with incident fracture, independent of starting BMD, before the MT.

The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, a longitudinal cohort study, included 451 women, initially premenopausal or early perimenopausal, and those transitioned to postmenopause. Main outcome measures included time to first fracture after early postmenopause.

-- In Cox proportional hazards regression, adjusted for age, body mass index, race/ethnicity, study site, use of vitamin D and calcium supplements, and use of bone-detrimental or -beneficial medications, each SD decrement in lumbar spine (LS) BMD before MT was associated with a 78% increment in fracture hazard.

-- Each 1% per year faster decline in LS BMD was related to a 56% greater fracture hazard.

-- Rate of LS BMD decline predicted future fracture, independent of starting BMD. Women with a starting LS BMD below the sample median, and an LS BMD decline rate faster than the sample median had a 2.7-fold greater fracture hazard.

-- At the femoral neck, neither starting BMD nor rate of BMD decline was associated with fracture.

Conclusively, at the LS, starting BMD before the MT and rate of decline during the combined MT and early postmenopause are independent risk factors for fracture. Women with a below-median starting LS BMD and a faster-than-median LS BMD decline have the greatest fracture risk.