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OBJECTIVES: There have been no reported studies of the association between parity and cartilage in young individuals. The aim of this study was to describe the association between parity, cartilage volume and cartilage defects in women aged 31-41 years. METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 144 women, mean age 36 years and BMI 25 kg/m(2), who were participants in an established prospective study. Parity was assessed using a questionnaire. Knee (medial tibial, lateral tibial and patellar) cartilage volume, cartilage defects (grade 0-4 depending on the severity of cartilage thickness loss at tibial and patellar sites) and tibial bone area were assessed using T1-weighted fat-suppressed MRI. RESULTS: The prevalence of cartilage defects (grade ≥2) in this population was 13%. Parity was associated with a higher risk of cartilage defects at the patellar [prevalence ratio (PR) per birth 1.52, 95% CI 1.05, 2.21; PR parous vs nulliparous 1.93, 95% CI 0.66, 5.65], but not tibial sites, after adjustment for confounders including age, BMI, smoking, physical activity, knee injury and tibial bone area. This association between parity and patellar cartilage defects was stronger for those women who had three or more births (vs nulliparous, PR 5.27, 95% CI 1.39, 20.01). There were no significant associations between parity and cartilage volume. CONCLUSION: Parity was associated with knee cartilage defects primarily at the patellar site in this sample of young women. This association was more apparent with increasing number of live births, suggesting a possible adverse effect of parity on knee cartilage.

Original publication




Journal article


Rheumatology (Oxford)

Publication Date





2039 - 2045


Adult, Cartilage Diseases, Cartilage, Articular, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Knee Joint, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Parity, Pregnancy, Prospective Studies