Age at Her First Period Can Help Predict a Woman’s Diabetes Risk
What is the problem and what is known about it so far?
Menarche is a girl’s first menstrual cycle. The average age at menarche has been declining in many countries, and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes has been increasing. Researchers believe there is a connection between the early age of a girl experiencing her first period and the greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Why did the researchers do this particular study?
The researchers did this study because of three factors: 1) The findings from several studies of this possible connection have been inconsistent 2) None of the previous studies considered the impact of the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women 3) None of the previous research looked at the age of the patient when experiencing her first period and type 2 diabetes risk factors.
Who was studied?
253 healthy premenopausal women from Buffalo, New York, who were between 18 and 44 years of age with regular menstruation cycles were studied.
How was the study done?
The study participants were tested 16 times over two menstruation cycles (8 times per cycle), where blood samples were drawn and diabetes risk factors were measured. Participants were then grouped into three categories according to when each reported getting her first period: early menarche (9–12 years of age); average menarche (over 12 but under 14 years of age); and late menarche (14–16 years of age). The researchers also looked at previous studies of the menstrual cycle and any strong links between the age of a girl when she gets her first period and body fat in adulthood.
What did the researchers find?
The researchers found that the girls in the early menarche group had more risk factors for diabetes and more body fat later in life when compared with the girls in the average group. In fact, the earlier the age of the girl at her first period, the greater the increase in diabetes risk factors and body fat as an adult. This study was the first to look at the link between the age of the individual when she experienced her first period and diabetes risk factors in premenopausal women.
What were the limitations of the study?
The participants in the current study were younger and healthier than those in previous studies, which may explain some of the differences in findings. In addition, the age of the individual at the time of her first period was self-reported from memory and may not have been exact, and factors like birth weight and childhood fat were not measured by the researchers.
What are the implications of the study?
The age at which a girl gets her first period is linked to her risk for diabetes later in life. The earlier a girl starts her period, the more likely she is to have risk factors for diabetes as an adult. This information is important for creating treatments and therapies aimed at preserving health and preventing the development of type 2 diabetes. Further study is needed to see if the early age of a girl when she gets her first period itself may be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes as an adult.
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