News Release

High-school students with neurodevelopmental disorders experience worse premenstrual syndrome symptoms

Researchers investigate how menstruation affects school adjustment, performance, and mood in high-school females with early neurodevelopmental disorders

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

Scientists have shown that females with traits of neurodevelopmental disabilities are more likely to suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), but how this affects their adjustment in high school remains unclear. To tackle this gap, researchers from Japan conducted a survey among high-school and college students. Their findings reveal that PMDD can pose a significant challenge to female high-school students with sub-threshold ADHD and autism traits, calling for the development of better support systems.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a relatively common condition that affects most women who menstruate, at some point in their lives. Typically, PMS can cause a variety of symptoms, including mood swings, irritability, bloating, and fatigue. Moreover, PMS tends to worsen the symptoms of certain psychiatric and personality disorders. In certain instances, PMS can lead to premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a type of severe depressive disorder that impairs daily life activities and interpersonal relationships.

According to several studies, women with intellectual or developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are more likely to have menstrual abnormalities, PMS symptoms, and PMDD. It is possible that female adolescents with developmental disabilities are at a higher risk of experiencing exacerbated mood disturbances, and that these may impact their adjustment in high school. Unfortunately, there have been no studies demonstrating associations between these concepts among female high-school students with sub-threshold neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Against this backdrop, Associate Professor Takuya Miura of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and Professor Soichi Hashimoto from Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan, conducted a study to address this knowledge gap. Their findings are published in the Journal of Developmental Disabilities Research in November 2023.

The researchers performed a questionnaire-based survey that involved 500 high-school and first/second-year college students in Japan. The survey contained seven items related to sub-threshold neurodevelopmental disability traits, 12 items related to PMDD symptoms, and two items related to school adjustment. The accuracy of the scales used in the questionnaire was validated by resorting to item response theory, which ensures that the survey items effectively measure the traits and symptoms under investigation.

The researchers found that female high-school students with traits of sub-threshold neurodevelopmental disabilities tended to be more uncomfortable before menstruation compared to female college students or female high-school students with typical development. Moreover, they found interesting differences between female students exhibiting ASD traits and ADHD traits, as Associate Prof. Miura remarks: “Female high-school students with sub-threshold ASD traits were more likely to have depressed or hopeless moods and higher levels of anxiety and tension.” The results also indicated that female high-school students with sub-threshold ASD traits faced difficulties with school life and study performance, whereas PMDD interfered with relationship building at school more in those with ADHD traits.

Taken together, the findings of this study shed light on the additional challenges that female high-school students with sub-threshold neurodevelopmental traits face before menstruation. These insights should be considered by school management and teachers alike to develop strategies that can help these students adjust better and have improved mental health. In this regard, Assoc. Prof. Miura comments: “The results suggest that there is an urgent need to develop classroom-based support techniques that allow for good communication between female high-school students with sub-threshold neurodevelopmental disabilities traits and their peers.”

Hopefully, this work will help develop systems where reproductive health education is paramount and the difficulties caused by developmental characteristics are considered. Such systems may help affected high-school females adjust better, making their experiences at school more enjoyable and productive.




About Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

The Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) is a prominent institution of higher education located in Tokyo, Japan. With a rich history of approximately 150 years and a strong reputation for its contributions to several fields, TUAT is known for its dedication to research and innovation, offering a wide range of academic programs in agriculture, engineering, and related disciplines. With a commitment to fostering scientific advancements and addressing the challenges of a rapidly changing world, TUAT strives to weave science and society to create a globally sustainable future.



About Associate Professor Takuya Miura from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

Dr. Takuya Miura is a qualified Clinical Developmental Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, School Psychologist, and Chartered Psychologist. He obtained a PhD degree from Tokyo Gakugei University in 2014 and currently serves as Associate Professor at the Division of Advanced Health Science at the Institute of Engineering, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Here, he conducts research related to school clinical psychology and clinical developmental psychology. He has authored over 55 papers on these topics, as well as several books.


Funding Information

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP23K02567 and JP20K14064.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.