Polycystic ovary syndrome increases risk for gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders

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McGill researchers make gains in understanding pregnancy-associated metabolic complications
Published: 6Oct2020

A recent study by researchers at McGill University has identified polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as an independent risk factor for gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. The condition, known to lead to multiple reproductive complications, including infertility, affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.

PCOS was already known for its association to other adverse perinatal conditions, such as insulin resistance. However, there remains significant gaps in understanding the correlation between the syndrome and neonatal complications.

“We discovered that PCOS is a risk factor for morbidity in pregnancy,” explained Dr. Michael Dahan, Assistant Professor in McGill’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and lead author of the study. “We are now able to precisely determine the relative risk in pregnancy related to the disease process itself by controlling for underlying conditions, which previous studies were unable to do.”

Researcher used data from more than nine million pregnancies

Using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample (HCUP-NIS) database, which compiles over 9 million pregnancies and births, researchers from McGill were able to establish links between pregnant women with PCOS and the prevalence of pregnancy hypertension, thyroid disease, obesity and pregestational and gestational diabetes.

Additionally, the researchers also found that pregnant women with PCOS were more likely to have undergone IVF treatment and had increased rates of congenital anomalies in their offspring as opposed to their non-PCOS counterparts.

“PCOS is the most common hormonal condition among reproductive age women,” Dahan says. “It is important to consider the risk of other co-existing conditions frequently encountered in women with PCOS, as these risks are additive and place them at a significantly increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

Further research will be undertaken to investigate the role of specific interventions in PCOS on modifying risk in pregnancy and delivery.

About this study

Polycystic ovary syndrome as an independent risk factor for gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: a population-based study on 9.1 million pregnancies” by Michael Dahan and al. was published in Human Reproduction.

About McGill University

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,800 international students making up 31% per cent of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 19% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.

Contact Information

Contact: 
Frederique Mazerolle
Organization: 
McGill University
Email: 
frederique.mazerolle [at] mcgill.ca
Office Phone: 
(514) 398-6693
Mobile Phone: 
(514) 617-8615
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