Endocrinology and gynecology of girls and women with low birth weight

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2011;30(4):243-9. doi: 10.1159/000330366. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


In girls, low birth weight (LBW), when followed by postnatal catch-up growth, is accompanied by endocrine-metabolic abnormalities which include a more adipose body composition (with increased visceral fat), insulin resistance and a less favorable adipokine profile as early as in the pre-school age. These girls also exhibit follicle-stimulating hormone hypersecretion both in early infancy and early post-menarche, with reduced uterine and ovarian size in adolescence. These endocrine and gynecological changes result in a decreased ovulation rate and in an advanced tempo of adrenarche, pubertal development and menarche (by nearly a year, compared to non-LBW girls). The earlier maturation in LBW girls may result in a loss of about 1 SD in height, as compared with target height. During the post-menarcheal period, LBW girls are at increased risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome. Early insulin sensitization may prevent or delay some of the endocrine-metabolic abnormalities associated to LBW.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / growth & development*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / metabolism
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Organ Size
  • Ovary / anatomy & histology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Puberty, Precocious / epidemiology
  • Uterus / anatomy & histology


  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone