Group-based developmental BMI trajectories, polycystic ovary syndrome, and gestational diabetes: A community-based longitudinal study

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Background: Obesity is common in young women, increasing insulin resistance (IR) and worsening pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes (GDM). Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are commonly obese, which aggravates the severity of PCOS clinical expression. Relationships between these common insulin-resistant conditions, however, remain unclear. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) database, including data from 8009 women aged 18-36 years across six surveys. We used latent-curve growth modelling to identify distinct body mass index (BMI) trajectories and multinomial logistic regression to explore sociodemographic and health variables characterizing BMI group membership. Logistic regression was used to assess independent risk of GDM. Results: A total of 662 women (8.29%, 95% CI 7.68-8.89) reported PCOS. Three distinct BMI trajectories emerged, namely low stable (LSG) (63.8%), defined as an average trajectory remaining at ~25 kg/m2; moderately rising (MRG) (28.8%), a curvilinear trajectory commencing in a healthy BMI and terminating in the overweight range; and high-rising (HRG) (7.4%), a curvilinear trajectory starting and terminating in the obese range. A high BMI in early reproductive life predicted membership in higher trajectories. The HRG BMI trajectory was independently associated with GDM (OR 2.50, 95% CI 1.80-3.48) and was a stronger correlate than PCOS (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.41-2.54), maternal age, socioeconomic status, or parity. Conclusion: Our results suggest heterogeneity in BMI change among Australian women of reproductive age, with and without PCOS. Reducing early adult life weight represents an ideal opportunity to intervene at an early stage of reproductive life and decreases the risk of long-term metabolic complications such as GDM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number195
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2017


  • BMI
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Latent-curve analysis
  • Longitudinal
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

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