- Women who had their first menstruation at age ≤11 years had a 51% higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Early puberty in girls had now been shown to be a significant marker for gestational diabetes.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight before pregnancy in those with an early start of puberty may help to lower their risk of gestational diabetes.
The age at which girls start menstruating could indicate the risk of diabetes during pregnancy, according to a University of Queensland study.
Researcher Danielle Schoenaker said those who had their first period at age 11 or younger were 50 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes than those who experienced their first period at age 13.
‘Attaining menarche at a young age (<11 years) may increase the risk of diabetes during pregnancy.’
"This finding could mean that health professionals will start asking women when they had their first period to identify those at higher risk of gestational diabetes," Ms Schoenaker said.
Risk of Gestational Diabetes in Early Menarche
UQ School of Public Health researchers analysed data from more than 4700 women from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health and found a higher number of women who reported having their first period at a younger age had later developed gestational diabetes.
Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health Director Professor Gita Mishra said early puberty in girls had now been shown to be a significant marker for several adverse health outcomes, including gestational diabetes.
"Research into this topic is of particular public health importance due to global trends of girls starting their menstrual cycles at a younger age," Professor Mishra said.
Ms Schoenaker said the significant association with gestational diabetes risk remained after researchers took into account body mass index and childhood, reproductive and lifestyle factors.
What is Gestational Diabetes
- Gestational diabetes is an increasingly common pregnancy complication and can have long-lasting health consequences for mothers and their children.
- About 7 out of 100 pregnant women get gestational diabetes.
- Those with gestational diabetes are at an incresed risk of diabetes later in life.
- Obesity, weight gain, physical inactivity and eating habits influence the preogression of diabetes.
"A large proportion of women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are overweight or obese, and encouraging those with an early start of puberty to control their weight before pregnancy may help to lower their risk of gestational diabetes," she said.
"While a healthy weight is important, it is also plausible that the higher risk is explained by hormonal changes, and the research calls for more studies to investigate the mechanisms behind this."
- Danielle A. J. M. Schoenaker and Gita D. Mishra
, Association Between Age at Menarche and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, Am J Epidemiol (2017)