Women who develop menarche early in life may be at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Researchers used data from 4749 women who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health between 2000 and 2012. The women were aged 22 to 27 years at the start of the study when they reported their age at start of menstruation. During the 12 years of the study, information on GDM diagnosis was obtained for every live birth. Log-binomial analysis was used to estimate relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and analyses were adjusted for body mass index, polycystic ovary syndrome, mother’s highest educational qualification, nulliparity, and physical activity.
The mean age at start of menstruation was 12.9 years (standard deviation, 1.4) and a first diagnosis of GDM was reported by 357 women (7.5%). When compared to women who started menstruation at 13 years, women who started menstruation at age ≤ 11 years had a 51% higher risk of developing GDM (95% confidence interval: 1.10 - 2.07) following adjustment for known GDM risk factors.
The investigators believe their findings illustrate that young age at the start of menarche may be a way of identifying women who are higher risk of developing GDM. They say that further studies are needed to confirm these initial results and to illuminate the role of early start of menarche and later risk of GDM.