Association between Childhood Body Size and Premenstrual Disorders in Young Adulthood

Donghao Lu*, Jurate Aleknaviciute, Astrid M. Kamperman, Rulla M. Tamimi, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, Unnur A. Valdimarsdóttir, Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Importance: Emerging data suggest that more than two-thirds of premenstrual disorders (PMDs), including premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, have symptom onset during the teen years. Adulthood adiposity has been associated with PMDs; however, the association with childhood and adolescent body size is unknown. Objective: To examine the association between childhood and adolescent body size and risk of PMDs in young adulthood. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study included 6524 US female participants from the Growing Up Today Study (1996-2013). Data were analyzed from February 26, 2020, to June 23, 2021. Exposures: Body mass index (BMI) was estimated using self-reported height and weight through adolescence and converted to BMI for age (z score). Main Outcomes and Measures: In 2013, premenstrual symptoms and identified PMDs were assessed with a validated scale based on the Calendar of Premenstrual Experiences. The associations of BMI for age with PMDs and premenstrual symptoms were examined using log-binomial and linear regressions, respectively. Results: Among 6524 participants (mean [SD] age, 26 [3.5] years; 6108 [93.6%] White), 1004 (15.4%) met the criteria for a PMD. Baseline BMI for age reported at a mean (SD) age of 12.7 (1.1) years was associated with increased risk of PMDs (confounding-adjusted relative risk, 1.09 per unit of z score; 95% CI, 1.03-1.15) and higher burden of premenstrual symptoms (β = 0.06; 95% CI, 0.04-0.08). Associations were particularly pronounced for premenstrual dysphoric disorder and for PMDs with symptom onset before 20 years of age and remained in the absence of psychiatric comorbidities, including depression, anxiety, and disordered eating behavior. When analyzing BMI change over time, individuals with high BMI throughout adolescence had a higher burden of premenstrual symptoms (β = 0.17; 95% CI, 0.08-0.27) compared with those with normal BMI throughout adolescence. Individuals with high BMI early followed by a mild decrease later did not report higher premenstrual symptoms (β = 0.06; 95% CI, 0.00-0.12). Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, childhood body size was associated with PMD risk and premenstrual symptoms in young adulthood. These findings suggest that maintaining a normal body mass in childhood may be considered for lowering the burden of PMDs in adulthood..

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere221256
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022

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