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  • Writer's picturePCOS Vitality (c)

Only 24% recognise the crucial period from the womb to age 5 as a significant determinant of health

The “5 Big Questions on the Under Fives’s” survey carried out by the Royal Foundation and Kate Middleton is the biggest survey of its kind with over half a million respondents [1]. In the past, Kate has demonstrated her passion for babies and children’s development and has seen first-hand how positive early years experiences can play a crucial role in childhood development as she says “they (the period from the womb to Age 5) are about the society we will become”[2].

This is welcome news for women and everyone with PCOS as it has highlighted that there needs to be improved translation of research, something that PCOS Vitality strives for. The report highlights the importance of the period from the time in the womb to age 5 both for physical and mental health. [2]. The intrauterine period is believed to be an important factor in the development of PCOS and obesity both of which can have a negative impact on reproductive outcomes [3]. For example, findings suggest that women with PCOS are at increased risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes and obesity has an additive negative effect on both [4][5].

With this in mind, we would welcome future specialised support for women with PCOS during pregnancy and postnatally given these increased pregnancy complications risks and a substantially increased risk of postnatal depression in those who have had miscarriages or medical assistance to conceive [6].

Other highlights from the report are that only 10% of parents take time to look after themselves prior to birth and 7 out of 10 parents feel judged by other parents. In relation to the Covid19 pandemic, parental loneliness has risen from 38% to 63% after the first lockdown and 40% of parents feel that community support has increased during the pandemic, with deprived areas hit hardest with only 33% experiencing added support[2].

Overall, the study highlights the need for further education about the importance of intrauterine programming and child development up to age 5 in relation to health and a need for more support to ensure good mental health and wellbeing in raising children.

The Duchess has demonstrated commitment to bring about changes in this area and Kensington Palace has announced that she plans to build on her findings in 2021 so we will be watching this space!

© PCOS Vitality 2020


[1] Royal Foundation, (n.d.). (accessed November 27, 2020).

[2] O. Sweet, J. Long, L. Evans, L. Lindley, G. Welch, J. Barlow, N.C. Eisenstadt, P. Leon Feinstein, P. Peter Fonagy OBE, A. Gregoire, D. Holmes CBE, P. Eamon McCrory, E. Vainker, The primary research, analysis and reporting was conducted by Ipsos MORI The Duchess of Cambridge’s Early Years Steering Group Research participants, n.d.

[3] C.J. Glueck, N. Goldenberg, Characteristics of obesity in polycystic ovary syndrome: Etiology, treatment, and genetics ☆, Metabolism. (2018).

[4] R. Valdimarsdottir, A.K. Wikström, T.K. Kallak, E. Elenis, O. Axelsson, H. Preissl, S.J.K.A. Ubhayasekera, J. Bergquist, I.S. Poromaa, Pregnancy outcome in women with polycystic ovary syndrome in relation to second-trimester testosterone levels, Reprod. Biomed. Online. (2020).

[5] G. Mills, A. Badeghiesh, E. Suarthana, H. Baghlaf, M.H. Dahan, Polycystic ovary syndrome as an independent risk factor for gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: A population-based study on 9.1 million pregnancies, Hum. Reprod. 35 (2020) 1666–1674.

[6] W.A. March, M.J. Whitrow, M.J. Davies, R.C. Fernandez, V.M. Moore, Postnatal depression in a community-based study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Acta Obstet. Gynecol. Scand. 97 (2018) 838–844.

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