Studying Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Children’s Health

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NICHD researchers study women’s health conditions and how they may affect pregnancy, maternal health, and the health of children. In a study from the Epidemiology Branch, researchers evaluated whether PCOS influenced the cardiometabolic health of mothers and their children. PCOS can put a person at risk for cardiometabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, and intergenerational effects are unclear.

  • The researchers analyzed data from the Upstate KIDS cohort, which followed mothers and their children for more than 10 years. 
  • In the study, about 14% of women attending a study exam (61 total) self-reported a PCOS diagnosis. The team looked at this group’s cardiometabolic health data—blood pressure, heart rate, arterial stiffness, cholesterol levels, and more—of both mothers and their children, whose ages were around 8 to 9 years old.
  • While the researchers found differences in the cardiometabolic health of women with and without self-reported PCOS, they did not observe statistical differences between the two groups of children.
  • The findings provide some reassurance that the children of women who were diagnosed with PCOS prior to pregnancy are not at higher risk for cardiometabolic health problems through middle childhood.
  • However, the authors caution that their study is limited by a small sample size. Future, larger studies may provide additional information useful for people with PCOS and their healthcare providers.

NICHD co-authors of the paper include K.J. Polinski, S.L. Robinson, D.L. Putnick, R. Sundaram, V. Gomez-Lobo, E.M. Bell, and E.H. Yeung.

Learn more about the Division of Population Health Research (DiPHR):

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