Metabolic syndrome linked to menstrual, hormonal, insulin irregularities in adolescence

Endocrine Today

Glueck CJ. J Pediatr. 2011;doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.01.018.
March 23, 2011

Oligomenorrhea, polycystic ovary syndrome, sex hormones and insulin levels during adolescence may play a significant role in the genesis of metabolic syndrome and severe obesity in young adulthood, researchers report in a new study.

The prospective study of 237 white and 256 black schoolgirls compared information on menstrual cycles, insulin, sex hormone levels and metabolic syndrome gathered at age 14 years with the presence of class III obesity and metabolic syndrome at age 24 years. The researchers categorized participants as having regular menstrual cycles, or PCOS. Oligomenorrhea was defined as menstrual cycles of at least 42 days and PCOS was defined as oligomenorrhea combined with biochemical hyperandrogenism. Insulin was measured between ages 10 and 16 years.

Results revealed significant associations between metabolic syndrome at age 24 years and high childhood insulin levels, metabolic syndrome, PCOS and low sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) at age 14 years. A categorical model based on reports of oligomenorrhea collected from ages 14 to 19 years also identified race-specific top decile childhood insulin, race-specific bottom decile SHBG, PCOS and metabolic syndrome at age 14 years as predictors for metabolic syndrome at 24 years.

Severe obesity at age 24 years was also linked with black race, low SHBG and oligomenorrhea at age 14 years. The researchers noted no significant association between obesity and childhood insulin or metabolic syndrome at age 14 years, however. Black race, race-specific top decile childhood insulin, race-specific bottom decile SHBG, metabolic syndrome and PCOS at age 14 were implicated as predictors for class III obesity at 24 years.

These factors “may represent a critical, reversible pathway for the development of metabolic syndrome and class III obesity in young adulthood,” study researcher Charles J. Glueck, MD, medical director of the Cholesterol and Metabolism Center at The Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, told Endocrine Today.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.