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Free access

Petros Perros, Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar, and Laszlo Hegedüs

Since the introduction of sensitive assays for serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) clinicians have advised hypothyroid patients to adjust the dose of levothyroxine (L-T4) in order to achieve a normal serum TSH. A minority of patients are dissatisfied with this treatment strategy and experience symptoms. Some indirect evidence suggests that a normal serum TSH may not necessarily reflect euthyroidism at the tissue level in patients treated with L-T4. Increasingly hypothyroid patients demand higher doses of L-T4 or liothyronine (L-T3) or animal thyroid extract, often purchased online, and titrate the dose against symptoms, although ample evidence suggests that combination treatment (L-T4 with L-T3) is no more effective than L-T4 alone. Community surveys show that up to 53% of treated hypothyroid patients at any time have a serum TSH outside the normal range. The recommendation by guidelines that the upper limit of the normal range for serum TSH should not be exceeded is supported by robust evidence and is generally accepted by clinicians and patients. However, until recently the lower limit of serum TSH for optimal L-T4 replacement has been controversial. New evidence obtained by two independent large population studies over the past two years has shown that mortality of hypothyroid patients treated with levothyroxine is increased when the serum TSH exceeds or is reduced outside the normal reference range. It is estimated that the implementation of a policy of normalising serum TSH in hypothyroid patients will reduce the risk of death of 28.3 million people in the USA and Europe alone.

Open access

Anuradhaa Subramanian, Jan Idkowiak, Konstantinos A Toulis, Shakila Thangaratinam, Wiebke Arlt, and Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar

Context

The incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has been on the rise, driven by maternal obesity. In parallel, pubertal tempo has increased in the general population, driven by childhood obesity.

Objective

To evaluate the available evidence on pubertal timing of boys and girls born to mothers with GDM.

Data sources

We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, Cochrane library and grey literature for observational studies up to October 2019.

Study selection and extraction

Two reviewers independently selected studies, collected data and appraised the studies for risk of bias. Results were tabulated and narratively described as reported in the primary studies.

Results

Seven articles (six for girls and four for boys) were included. Study quality score was mostly moderate (ranging from 4 to 10 out of 11). In girls born to mothers with GDM, estimates suggest earlier timing of pubarche, thelarche and menarche although for each of these outcomes only one study each showed a statistically significant association. In boys, there was some association between maternal GDM and earlier pubarche, but inconsistency in the direction of shift of age at onset of genital and testicular development and first ejaculation. Only a single study analysed growth patterns in children of mothers with GDM, describing a 3-month advancement in the age of attainment of peak height velocity and a slight increase in pubertal tempo.

Conclusions

Pubertal timing may be influenced by the presence of maternal GDM, though current evidence is sparse and of limited quality. Prospective cohort studies should be conducted, ideally coupled with objective biochemical tests.

Open access

Anuradhaa Subramanian, Astha Anand, Nicola J Adderley, Kelvin Okoth, Konstantinos A Toulis, Krishna Gokhale, Christopher Sainsbury, Michael W O’Reilly, Wiebke Arlt, and Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar

Objective

Several recent observational studies have linked metabolic comorbidities to an increased risk from COVID-19. Here we investigated whether women with PCOS are at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

Design

Population-based closed cohort study between 31 January 2020 and 22 July 2020 in the setting of a UK primary care database (The Health Improvement Network, THIN).

Methods

The main outcome was the incidence of COVID-19 coded as suspected or confirmed by the primary care provider. We used Cox proportional hazards regression model with stepwise inclusion of explanatory variables (age, BMI, impaired glucose regulation, androgen excess, anovulation, vitamin D deficiency, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease) to provide unadjusted and adjusted hazard risks (HR) of COVID-19 infection among women with PCOS compared to women without PCOS.

Results

We identified 21 292 women with a coded diagnosis of PCO/PCOS and randomly selected 78 310 aged and general practice matched control women. The crude COVID-19 incidence was 18.1 and 11.9 per 1000 person-years among women with and without PCOS, respectively. Age-adjusted Cox regression analysis suggested a 51% higher risk of COVID-19 among women with PCOS compared to women without PCOS (HR: 1.51 (95% CI: 1.27–1.80), P < 0.001). After adjusting for age and BMI, HR reduced to 1.36 (1.14–1.63)], P = 0.001. In the fully adjusted model, women with PCOS had a 28% increased risk of COVID-19 (aHR: 1.28 (1.05–1.56), P = 0.015).

Conclusion

Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection and should be specifically encouraged to adhere to infection control measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Significance statement

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have an increased risk of cardio-metabolic disease, which have been identified as a risk factor for COVID-19. To investigate whether the increased metabolic risk in PCOS translates into an increased risk of COVID-19 infection, we carried out a population-based closed cohort study in the UK during its first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (January to July 2020), including 21 292 women with PCOS and 78 310 controls matched for sex, age and general practice location. Results revealed a 52% increased risk of COVID-19 infection in women with PCOS, which remained increased at 28% above controls after adjustment for age, BMI, impaired glucose regulation and other explanatory variables.

Free access

Antiopi Ntouva, Konstantinos A Toulis, Deepikshana Keerthy, Nicola J Adderley, Wasim Hanif, Rasiah Thayakaran, Krishna Gokhale, G Neil Thomas, Kamlesh Khunti, Abd A Tahrani, and Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar

Objective

Type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of fracture. Any factor that incrementally increases this risk should be taken into account when individualising treatment. Hypoglycaemia is a common complication of antidiabetes medications and suggested as a risk factor for fractures; yet, its real-life clinical impact is unclear.

Design

A population-based, retrospective open cohort study using routinely collected data between 1st of January 1995 and 1st of May 2016 in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database.

Methods

Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with documented hypoglycaemic events were compared to randomly matched patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus without documented hypoglycaemic events matched to exposed patients on age, sex, duration of diabetes and BMI. The primary outcome was any incident fracture. Secondary outcome was incident fragility (osteoporotic) fracture.

Results

A total of 41 163 patients with type 2 diabetes were included: 14 147 patients in the exposed cohort and 27 016 patients in the unexposed cohort. Patients with a documented hypoglycaemic event were significantly more likely to sustain any fracture compared to patients with no record of hypoglycaemic events: adjusted IRR = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.12–1.30; P < 0.0001). Patients who had a documented hypoglycaemic event were significantly more likely to suffer a fragility fracture compared to controls: adjusted IRR = 1.24 (95% CI: 1.13–1.37; P < 0.0001).

Conclusions

Hypoglycaemic events are a significant risk factor for fractures in patients with diabetes mellitus. This observation is clinically relevant when individualising targets for glycaemic control and selecting antidiabetic agents.

Open access

Balachandran Kumarendran, Dana Sumilo, Michael W O’Reilly, Konstantinos A Toulis, Krishna M Gokhale, Chandrika N Wijeyaratne, Arri Coomarasamy, Wiebke Arlt, Abd A Tahrani, and Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar

Objective

Obesity is very common in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Longitudinal studies assessing OSA risk in PCOS and examining the role of obesity are lacking. Our objective was to assess the risk of OSA in women with vs without PCOS and to examine the role of obesity in the observed findings.

Design

Population-based retrospective cohort study utilizing The Health Improvement Network (THIN), UK.

Methods

76 978 women with PCOS and 143 077 age-, BMI- and location-matched women without PCOS between January 2000 and May 2017 were identified. Hazard ratio (HR) for OSA among women with and without PCOS were calculated after controlling for confounding variables using multivariate Cox models.

Results

Median patient age was 30 (IQR: 25–35) years; median follow-up was 3.5 (IQR: 1.4–7.1) years. We found 298 OSA cases in PCOS women vs 222 in controls, with incidence rates for OSA of 8.1 and 3.3 per 10 000 person years, respectively. Women with PCOS were at increased risk of developing OSA (adjusted HR = 2.26, 95% CI: 1.89–2.69, P < 0.001), with similar HRs for normal weight, overweight and obese PCOS women.

Conclusions

Women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing OSA compared to control women irrespective of obesity. Considering the significant metabolic morbidity associated with OSA, clinicians should have a low threshold to test for OSA in women with PCOS. Whether OSA treatment has an impact on PCOS symptoms and outcomes needs to be examined.