The fetal and early childhood origins of PCOS: A prospective cohort study [ 2006 - 2008 ]

Also known as: The fetal and childhood origins of the polycystic ovary syndrome

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Martha Hickey (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Michael Davies Prof Dorota Doherty Prof Roger Hart Dr Deborah Sloboda
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Brief description The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects up to 10% of women of reproductive age, which translates into around 350,000 women in Australia. It is the most common hormonal disorder in women. The syndrome has far-reaching adverse implications for general and reproductive health, including menstrual disorder, obesity, infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy complications, increased risk of diabetes and possibly heart disease. PCOS also commonly causes cosmetic problems such as excess body hair and acne. The underlying causes of PCOS are not known but are thought to arise during intrauterine (fetal) life and to be modified by aspects of childhood health, particularly overweight and obesity. Using a large and well established cohort of adolescents followed up since fetal life and throughout childhood and currently aged 13-15 years old (the Raine cohort), we will define for the first time the intrauterine and early childhood correlates of PCOS. PCOS will be diagnosed by a specialist gynacologist using current international criteria. We will then utilise extensive existing data from this cohort combined with new measurements on existing samples to determine the contribution of key factors including fetal growth restriction, low birth weight, fetal androgen exposure, rapid postnatal growth, childhood adiposity, elevated fasting glucose and insulin and age at menarche to PCOS. In this way, we will address for the first time the hypothesis that PCOS arises as a result of events during fetal life and is affected by factors during childhood. The results from these studies will improve our understanding of PCOS and eventually improve reproductive and metabolic health for a substantial population of women internationally. It is essential that these studies are conducted as soon as possible or the opportunity will be missed. Girls with persistent menstrual irregularity are likely to be commenced on hormonal treatments which will make the diagnosis of PCOS impossible.

Funding Amount $AUD 499,116.09

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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