NORFOLK -- Endocrinologists are finding the carbohydrate load girls are eating, especially if they're not exercising, could make them insulin-resistant which can lead to infertility.
'I don't even think that they recognize the two are related,' says CHKD Pediatric Endocrinologist Dr. Kent Reifschneider.
He says his waiting room has gotten busier with young girls.
'Because of the association with insulin resistance and the struggles with obesity nationally and internationally, we are seeing more and more individuals with polycystic ovarian syndrome.'
That syndrome is the number one cause of infertility in reproductive age women.
Dr. Reifschneider is seeing the symptoms in girls before they're even into puberty.
'Its preventing them from having their first cycle,' he said.
The way insulin-resistant associated PCOS works is: the more carbs you eat, the more insulin your pancreas produces to digest the sugars. If you have too much insulin, you create too much testosterone. Too much testosterone can lead to male hair growth patterns, obesity, no ovulation, and cysts.
'That's what brings them to us. My cycles haven't occurred and they become irregular and they don't know why.'
So how does he treat it? Not with birth control but Metformin, a diabetic drug.
'A lifestyle change and adding Metformin seems to address the underlying cause.'
He encourages changing their diets first, so they do not have to live on a pill.
'I suggest they really gravitate towards fruits, vegetables, and protein and really limiting the white starches and what I call liquid sugar: your juices and the high sugar-containing liquids.'
In a related topic: Another new study shows doctors might be able to foresee which young girls have a chance of developing eating disorders in life simply by the food they eat.
The more carbs and fat they eat when they're younger, the more susceptible they are. Click here to see the study.