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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


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.


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).


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.


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).


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


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.