A new study says that girls who have their first period before age 11 are 50 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
The increasingly common pregnancy complication is known for having long-lasting health consequences for mothers and for their children.
The study noted that the global trend towards puberty beginning at a younger age is concerning. Researchers suggested that health professionals should consider starting to include age of first period as a marker for what could be potential adverse health outcomes.
Research into this topic is of particular public health importance due to global trends of girls starting their menstrual cycles at a younger age,” Professor Mishra said.
Ms Schoenaker said the significant association with gestational diabetes risk remained after researchers took into account body mass index and childhood, reproductive and lifestyle factors.
“A large proportion of women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are overweight or obese, and encouraging those with an early start of puberty to control their weight before pregnancy may help to lower their risk of gestational diabetes,” she said.
“While a healthy weight is important, it is also plausible that the higher risk is explained by hormonal changes, and the research calls for more studies to investigate the mechanisms behind this.”
Read more about the study here.