(Reuters Health) – Women who got their first period at age 11 or earlier are at higher risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy, a recent Australian study suggests.

Being overweight is known to be a factor in early periods and also in what’s known as gestational diabetes, but it did not fully explain the link between the two conditions, the researchers write in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Diabetes develops in as many as 9 percent of pregnant women in the United States and can carry serious health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure and go into premature labor, said lead study author Danielle Schoenaker, a research officer at The University of Queensland.

“There are also consequences for the baby, which is more likely to grow faster and be larger at birth,” Schoenaker told Reuters Health by email. “In the longer term, both mothers and their children are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.”

To explore the link between women’s age at first menstruation, known as menarche, and their risk of developing gestational diabetes, the study team analyzed data on nearly 5,000 women participating in the larger Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health between 2000 and 2012.

The women included in the analysis all reported a live birth during the study and had completed a questionnaire every three to four years, answering questions about…

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