A1 Journal article – refereed

Clinical and biochemical signs of polycystic ovary syndrome in young women born preterm

List of Authors: Paalanne M, Vääräsmäki M, Mustaniemi S, Tikanmäki M, Wehkalampi K, Matinolli HM, Eriksson J, Järvelin MR, Morin-Papunen L, Kajantie E

Publication year: 2021

Journal: European Journal of Endocrinology

Journal name in source: European journal of endocrinology

Journal acronym: Eur J Endocrinol

Volume number: 185

Issue number: 2

ISSN: 0804-4643

eISSN: 1479-683X

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-20-1462



It has been suggested that adverse early life exposures increase the risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in later life. We hypothesized that women born preterm would have more biochemical and clinical signs of PCOS than women born at term.

The ESTER Preterm Birth Study participants were born in Northern Finland and identified from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort and the Finnish Medical Birth Register. Altogether, 74 women born very or moderately preterm (<34 gestational weeks, VMPT), 127 born late preterm (at 34–36 weeks, LPT), and 184 born full term (≥37 weeks, controls) were included in the analysis (mean age: 23.2 years).

We measured serum total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and calculated the free androgen index (FAI). PCOS according to the clinical and biochemical signs was defined either as hirsutism and oligoamenorrhea (via questionnaire) or as oligoamenorrhea and elevated testosterone levels (>2.4 nmol/L).

Women born VMPT/LPT exhibited 33.0% (8.7, 62.8)/16.4% (−2.0, 38.1) higher testosterone, 28.5% (5.3, 45.9)/24.1% (5.6, 38.9) lower SHBG levels, and 64.6% (19.4, 127.1)/42.5% (11.1, 82.9) higher FAI than controls after adjusting for age and recruitment cohort, maternal BMI, smoking, and pregnancy disorders, parental education, history of hypertension, diabetes, myocardial infarction or stroke, and subject’s birth weight s.d. Odds ratios for having PCOS were 1.67 (0.44, 6.23)/3.11 (1.26, 7.70).

Women born preterm have a more hyperandrogenic hormonal profile, and those born LPT are approximately three times more likely at risk to have PCOS compared to women born at term.

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Last updated on 2021-23-09 at 14:52