Most people don't realize that polycystic ovarian syndrome is a process that has already begun by infancy, and can affect both girls and boys.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is not just a disorder of adults. It appears to originate in the mother's womb and there is now evidence of abnormal ovarian function in infants and young girls. The problem is exacerbated if the mother has a history of PCOS.
A study from the University of Chile highlights this problem. The researchers studied 14 female infants and 25 girls (4-7 years old) whose mothers had polycystic ovary syndrome. They were compared to a control group of infants and girls whose mothers did not have the condition.
A hormone called Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) was measured. AMH is produced by ovarian cells and indicates follicular development. PCOS adults have increased levels of AMH, which is associated with an excessive number of growing follicles, leading to "polycystic ovaries".
The researchers found that infants and young girls of PCOS mothers also had elevated AMH levels compared to other infants and girls. This suggests that the ovaries are not acting normally, starting at a very young age.
If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome and you have a daughter, what can you do? We strongly recommend that you provide the healthiest diet possible and provide the opportunity for plenty of exercise.
We all know that children today eat a tremendous amount of junk food and spend too much time in front of the TV. We also know that a diet high in refined carbohydrates, fruit juices and other junk foods, plus a lack of physical activity, will likely worsen polycystic ovary syndrome problems for adults. The same may be true for young children and teenagers.
The best way to help your daughter avoid future problems with polycystic ovarian syndrome is to nip it in the bud with an extremely healthy diet and lots of exercise.
Is your young daughter developing pubic hair way before she should? Is she prematurely developing body odor and mild acne? Are skin and hair a bit too oily?
If so, she may be experiencing "premature adrenarche". Adrenarche refers to a stage of maturation of the adrenal glands. It typically occurs between ages 6 and 10 years. But sometimes it starts to occur sooner than that, which is called premature adrenarche.
Research is showing that girls with premature adrenarche have a high risk of developing polycystic ovarian syndrome.
For example, a recent study from Athens University Medical School in Greece showed that girls with premature adrenarche had some of the same clinical signs that PCOS women have such as coagulation disorders and chronic inflammation.
Premature adrenarche is also associated with excessive levels of male hormones, which later can lead to other symptoms of PCOS such as hirsutism, menstrual irregularities and lack of ovulation.
This condition is especially likely to occur if your young daughter is overweight. We recommend that you help her to control her weight. For example, you could encourage her to get regular exercise. You could put her on a diet of whole foods and minimize exposure to junk foods and refined carbohydrates.
Adrenarche is different from ovarian development during puberty, which is related to breast development and growth acceleration.
Klipstein KG et al,Increased anti-mullerian hormone serum concentrations in prepubertal daughters of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (pcos), J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 May 23; [Epub ahead of print]
Livadas S et al, Elevated coagulation and inflammatory markers in adolescents with a history of premature adrenarche, Metabolism. 2009 Apr;58(4):576-81
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