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Horm Res. 2009 Jan;71(1):12-21. doi: 10.1159/000173737. Epub 2008 Nov 27.

Puberty and ovarian function in girls with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

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Institute of Maternal and Child Research, School of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Insulin is well known for its effects on carbohydrate metabolism, but this hormone also plays an important role in regulating ovarian function. Granulosa, theca and stromal ovarian cells may be affected by insulin deficiency or excess, which may be present in women with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D). Recent publications have shown that in spite of intensive insulin therapy, some delay in the age of thelarche, pubarche and menarche is still observed in girls with T1D. In addition, ovarian hyperandrogenism may be observed during late adolescence and an increased prevalence of hirsutism and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has been described in adult women with T1D. These endocrine abnormalities may be related to nonphysiologic insulin replacement therapy and to hyperglycemia. This paper reviews the pubertal development and the clinical reproductive abnormalities observed in girls with type 1 diabetes mellitus, and shows that several significant clinical problems, such as pubertal delay, menstrual disturbances and hyperandrogenism which may ultimately lead to the development of PCOS in adulthood, may be observed in some of these patients.

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