Effects of maternal PCOS on pregnancy and infants

We are aware that PCOS has effects on one’s health beyond anovulation and associated infertility issues. Now a study claims there may be effects on the the offspring of PCOS mothers.

Maternal polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may have long-lasting adverse health consequences for offspring, according to a study published online May 11 and in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology as reported on medscape.com. Offspring of affected mothers had higher odds of congenital anomalies than peers of unaffected mothers and were 14% to 69% more likely to be hospitalized for various health conditions, with the elevated risk persisting into at least young adulthood.

“In view of our findings and the purported association of periconception, metabolic derangements with poor implantation and placentation, strategies to improve periconception health in women with PCOS may be expected to improve reproductive outcomes,” write Dorota A. Doherty, PhD, from the School of Women’s and Infants’ Health, University of Western Australia in Subiaco, and colleagues.

Both normal-weight status and metformin therapy have been linked to better pregnancy outcomes in this population, they note. “Hence, preconception identification of women with PCOS may enable early intervention to improve long-term outcomes, although it is not clear if all women with PCOS have this increased risk for adverse outcomes or whether there are certain features of PCOS that are associated with particular outcomes for the mother and her offspring,” they maintain.

The study is important as it is apparently the first to report a link between maternal PCOS and health outcomes of offspring in early life, according to Kathleen Hoeger, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Reproductive Endocrine Division, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York. In addition, PCOS is common among women of reproductive age but is often underappreciated in general pregnancy care.

“We should be counseling women who have PCOS that we need to be very attentive to any metabolic problems that may exist prior to becoming pregnant,” she told Medscape Medical News. “We in the healthcare community need to be aware of what potential things can we control, what can we change. We can’t change the fact that a woman has PCOS because we don’t believe that is something at this point that we can reverse. But we can change the quality of her healthcare prior to pregnancy and then obviously pay very close attention in pregnancy and then assess the children postbirth.”

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