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Release: March 2, 2000

UI researcher receives $2.3 million grant to study Depo-Provera

IOWA CITY, Iowa – M. Kathleen Clark, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Iowa College of Nursing, has received a four-year $2.3 million grant from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development to study the effects of Depo-Provera on bone-mineral density in women.

Clark, an epidemiologist and nurse practitioner, said that evidence suggests that Depo-Provera, a popular contraceptive injection, may contribute to bone loss at a time when women are maintaining or building bone. This may set the stage for osteoporosis later in life.

"Right now, decisions regarding the use or non-use of Depo-Provera by clinicians and consumers are made based on inadequate information," she said. "We hope that the information gained from this study will provide the basis of an informed decision."

Depo-Provera is a highly effective method of contraception that is injected every 90 days, an advantage many women prefer, Clark said. The contraceptive suppresses the production of estrogen, which is important in maintaining bone density. The study will test 160 women who are beginning their use of Depo-Provera. The researchers will test the women every three months for two years, checking bone density and hormone levels. A similar-sized group who do not receive the injection also will be tested.

Clark's co-investigator is Barcey Levy, Ph.D., M.D., and UI associate professor of family medicine. Their research team includes faculty from obstetrics and gynecology, including Ann Laros, M.D., assistant professor (clinical), and Susan Long and Vicki Guzman, advanced registered nurse practitioners.