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Undiagnosed Condition Increases Women's Osteoporosis Risk

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A delay in diagnosing a menopause-like condition called primary ovarian insufficiency in young women increases their risk of low bone density and osteoporosis later in life, says a U.S. National Institutes of Health study.

The condition occurs in girls and women younger than 40 when their ovaries stop working normally and no longer release eggs or produce estrogen. The main symptom -- irregular or stopped menstrual periods -- is often disregarded by women and their doctors, the study authors said.

"For years, primary ovarian insufficiency has been known to put women at risk of low bone density," Dr. Duane Alexander, director of NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a news release. "The new study helps explain why some women with the condition are more likely to develop low bone density. It also provides strong evidence that by diagnosing the condition early, replacing deficient estrogen, and getting adequate calcium and vitamin D, these women can protect their bones from weakness and fractures."

The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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