Birth Weight Related to Type 2 Diabetes Risk

baby girl

Children with low birth weight are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes when they grow older.

Researchers used association analysis to determine the factors that determine type 2 diabetes and looked into the prevalence of the disease in the babies with genetically determined low birth weight.

The researchers warn that there is no causality proven between the birth weight and diabetes, as the study shows only that the condition was more frequent when the person had a low weight at birth which was determined by a certain genetic variation.

Other factors that influence the appearance of type 2 diabetes are socioeconomic factors and lifestyle, such as a lack of exercise, an improper food diet, or not enough sleep.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition that includes a high level of sugar in the blood and a relative lack of insulin. Symptoms include frequent urination, weight loss, and increased thirst.

The researchers took into revision the case history of 3,627 adults that developed type 2 diabetes and other 12,974 cases of people with no previous medical history.

The diabetes risk was calculated based on the occurrence of the single nucleotide polymorphisms. The latter is a genetic variation that can lead to a series of diseases and it was also found to appear in children that have low birth weight.

“Our study suggests that prenatal growth retardation, which may be caused by malnutrition or other stresses, may causally affect later life risk of diabetes. Interventions such as modification of dietary or lifestyle during pregnancy may improve prenatal growth and reduce later life risk of diabetes,” said Lu Qi, director of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center.

The statistical analysis included a Mendelian randomization, and the results showed that an increment in the genetic risk code can lead to a 6% higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers find it interesting because the genes were not previously related to any diabetes risk.

Moreover, the low birth weight as indicated by the genetic variation is related to restricted intrauterine growth. The fetal development can be influenced by factors such as anemia, infections, malnutrition, or placental insufficiency.

As the intrauterine growth is under the full impact of the mother’s habits and socioeconomic status, scientists recommend that women should be offered more information and should be more protected from the adverse effects of an incorrect diet, substance abuse, or exposure to infections.

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