Maternal polycystic ovarian syndrome and offspring growth: the Upstate KIDS Study

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2018 Sep;72(9):852-855. doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-210004. Epub 2018 May 22.


Background: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility and is associated with higher levels of circulating androgens. Exposure to higher levels of androgens in utero may be a risk factor for obesity among children of women with PCOS.

Methods: We examined whether maternal PCOS was associated with differences in offspring growth and obesity in the Upstate KIDS study, a prospective cohort study of infants born in New York State (excluding New York City) oversampled for fertility treatments and multiple births. Measurements of offspring length/height and weight were recorded at doctor's visits through 3 years of age. PCOS diagnosis was self-reported by mothers at baseline. We used linear mixed models with robust SEs to estimate differences in growth by maternal PCOS exposure. We used logistic regression to examine whether infants experienced rapid weight gain at 4, 9 and 12 months. Growth measures were reported by 4098 mothers for 4949 children (1745 twins). Of these, 435 mothers (10.6%) had a diagnosis of PCOS.

Results: Compared with children born to mothers without PCOS, children of mothers with PCOS did not have significant differences in weight (4.81 g, 95% CI -95.1 to 104.7), length/height (0.18 cm, 95% CI -0.16 to 0.52) and body mass index (-0.14 kg/m2, 95% CI -0.30 to 0.01) through 3 years of age. We also observed no association between maternal PCOS and offspring rapid weight gain.

Conclusions: Overall, we found little evidence to suggest that maternal PCOS influences early childhood growth in this large, prospective cohort study.

Keywords: fertility; growth; reproductive health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report