Early puberty may be up risk of diabetes during pregnancy

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016,13:12 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | Women who began having menstrual cycles at a younger age are at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes, a disease that can cause babies to develop type 2 diabetes and other complications, a new study has found. Previous research has shown an association between beginning menstrual cycles, or menarche, at a young age and the development of type 2 diabetes. However, the new study looked specifically at menarche and gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that begins or is first recognised during pregnancy. The study followed more than 27,000 women and observed that when menarche began at age 11 compared to age 14, women had a 39 per cent higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

An increased risk, although lower, also occurred when menarche began at 12 and 13. This new finding could mean that doctors will begin asking women when they had their first period to determine their risk of developing gestational diabetes, said lead author Liwei Chen, assistant professor at Clemson University in US. They may represent a high-risk population and should be targeted for prevention programs, said Chen. Good weight control before pregnancy might help to reduce the gestational diabetes risk among those women, Chen said. Early menarche is also associated with obesity in adulthood, and previous research has pointed to pre-pregnancy obesity as a risk factor for gestational diabetes, but obesity doesn’t explain all the association between menarche and gestational diabetes, Chen said.

Researchers made adjustments for women who reported being obese in adolescence and at age 18, as well as such lifestyle choices as smoking, drinking alcohol, total physical activity and healthy eating, but the results were the same. Menarche marks the beginning of puberty and myriad hormonal changes in the body. Some of those changes could be related to developing gestational diabetes later in life, Chen said. For instance, early menarche is also associated with higher levels of oestrogen in adulthood, and other hormone imbalances are associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes.

Latest News