Women with the metabolic condition Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may be at increased risk of developing diseases during pregnancy, according to researchers in Sweden.
The peer-reviewed study examined 3,787 births from women with the endocrine disease and some 1.19 million (it's tidier) by others without the diagnosis between 1995 and 2007.
It was found that women who had PCOS were more likely to give birth to children with medical problems.
The disease was said to be closely associated with pregnancy-induced diseases such as hypertension, which leads to elevated blood pressure, premature births – this refers to babies born before the 37 week gestational period – and increased risk of developing diabetes.
Medical complications also extended to children born by mothers with PCOS and of most concern were illnesses such as meconium aspiration, which can be identified by laboured breathing or respiratory problems quickly after birth.
In addition to these concerns were low Agar scores – a system used to quickly assess the general health of a newborn child – as well as larger babies, creating potential birthing difficulties for mothers.
Nathalie Roos, lead scientists on the project, said: "Evidence suggests that PCOS has a negative impact on pregnancy outcomes, with an increased risk of gestational diabetes."
Yet despite identifying health concerns and complications scientists had difficulty explaining why the different health scenarios played out during pregnancy.
It had previously been thought that as many women with PCOS had difficulty falling pregnant, reproductive technologies may have been influencing birthing outcomes.
The fact that many PCOS suffers already struggled to maintain a healthy weight may have lead to a higher proportion of women in this group developing gestational diabetes.
But the study was unable to produce conclusive results within this area and instead found strong correlations between lifestyle behaviours and health.
However, it was suggested that women with PCOS needed increased supervision and improved monitoring during pregnancy by medical staff.
Researchers also asserted that by making simple dietary changes and increasing the amount of physical activity, women could reduce their chances of developing diseases during pregnancy, as well as those of their children.
And by working to improver their metabolic rate – through healthy eating and exercise – women could also place themselves in a better position of falling pregnant.
The results of the study may be of interest to women in Australia, where it is reported that as many as five to ten per cent of women of child bearing age suffer from the condition.
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