Updated adolescent diagnostic criteria for polycystic ovary syndrome: impact on prevalence and longitudinal body mass index trajectories from birth to adulthood

Chau Thien Tay, Roger J. Hart, Martha Hickey, Lisa J. Moran, Arul Earnest, Dorota A. Doherty, Helena J. Teede, Anju E. Joham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is challenging to diagnose. While the 2003 Rotterdam criteria are widely used for adults, the 2018 international PCOS guideline recommended updated Rotterdam criteria with both hyperandrogenism and oligo-anovulation for adolescents based on evidence-informed expert consensus. This study compared the prevalence of PCOS using updated and original Rotterdam criteria in community-based adolescents and explored long-term body mass index (BMI) trajectories across different diagnostic phenotypes. Methods: Overall, 227 postmenarchal adolescent females from the prospective cohort Raine Study undertook comprehensive PCOS assessment at age 14–16 years. Detailed anthropometric measurements were collected from birth until age 22 years. Cross-sectional and longitudinal BMI were analyzed using t tests and generalized estimating equations. Results: PCOS was diagnosed in 66 (29.1%) participants using original criteria versus 37 (16.3%) participants using updated Rotterdam criteria. Using updated criteria, participants with PCOS had higher BMI than participants without PCOS from prepubertal. Only the phenotype meeting the updated criteria was significantly associated with higher long-term BMI gain whereas other PCOS phenotypes had similar BMI trajectories to participants without PCOS (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The use of the 2018 updated Rotterdam criteria reduces over-diagnosis of PCOS in adolescents and identifies those at the greatest risk of long-term weight gain, a key contributor to disease severity and long-term health implications. The BMI trajectories of females with PCOS on updated criteria diverge prepubertally compared to those without PCOS. This work supports targeting adolescents diagnosed with PCOS on the 2018 updated criteria for early lifestyle interventions to prevent long-term health complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number389
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Body mass index
  • Diagnosis
  • Longitudinal
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Weight

Cite this