Association Between Obesity and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Adolescents

two girls back to back, one is healthy weight, one is overweightAre there differences in the clinical presentations of obese and non-obese adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? A study led by researchers in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou, China, set out to answer this question.

The researchers explored the clinical and metabolic features of both obese and non-obese adolescents who had been diagnosed with PCOS. Their study, “Clinical and metabolic features of polycystic ovary syndrome among Chinese adolescents,” was published online ahead of print in October 2012. It appears in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

The study included 25 obese adolescents with PCOS, 66 non-obese adolescents with the condition, and 26 members of a control group. Researchers took fasting venous blood samples and conducted an oral glucose tolerance test on all participants. The clinical features of the participants with PCOS and the controls were measured and summarized.

Of the 27% of examined patients with PCOS that were obese (25 out of 91), 99% suffered from some type of menstrual disorder; 84% had clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism; and polycystic ovaries were found via ultrasound in 90%.

In the adolescents who were obese, 5 out of 20 (25%) of the participants had impaired glucose tolerance; this impairment was seen in 5 out of 36 (14%) of the non-obese patients. The results also showed that obese adolescents with PCOS were more likely to also have hirsutism (excessive hairiness on the body) and acanthosis nigricans (hyperpigmentation of the skin), than their non-obese counterparts.

The study authors conclude that adolescents with PCOS have clinical and metabolic features that are similar to adults with the condition. However, in adolescents, an increased prevalence of insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism were seen in the present study. The researchers state that adolescents with high risk factors for PCOS complications require close clinical screening to help them manage their condition.

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