Previously, these increased problems were thought to be associated with assisted reproductive technology, which women with polycystic ovary often receive.
New research, however, indicates that women with the condition are at increased risk for these complications whether or not they've undergone fertility treatment or reproductive assistance.
"Ask your OB/GYN about polycystic ovary syndrome."
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common disorder in which a number of small cysts develop around the edge of a woman's ovaries. It affects between five and fifteen percent of women of reproductive age, and they often have problems getting pregnant because of ovulation problems. Women with this condition are more likely to be overweight and to receive fertility treatment.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden studied data on 3,787 births among Swedish women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and more than one million births among women without the condition.
They measured the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including preeclampsia, diabetes brought on by pregnancy, premature birth, stillbirth, neonatal death and poor newborn health.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome were 45 percent more likely to experience preeclampsia, and more than twice as likely to develop diabetes or give birth prematurely. The babies born to these mothers were also more prone to be large for gestational age, and to develop asphyxia during labor.
However, these increased risks could not be attributed to the use of assisted reproductive technology, or the weight or age of the woman. Lead author Nathalie Roos and her team called for better monitoring of women with polycystic ovary syndrome during pregnancy and birth, and said that future research should focus on glucose control, hormonal status and medical treatment for pregnant women with the syndrome.
Findings were published in the October 2011 issue of the British Medical Journal.