Low birth weight linked to diabetes
Research has long suggested that low birth weight can lead to increased risk of diabetes, but a new study published in Diabetologia confirms this connection and also provides more information about this relationship.
More than 3,000 women were included in the study sample, about half of whom developed type 2 diabetes and half who did not.
Low birth weight (less than 6 pounds) was linked to a 2.15 times greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than women with an 8- to 10-pound birth weight.
The connection remained even when researchers accounted for factors like body-mass index, family history of diabetes, smoking, drinking, exercise or diet.
Relative predictive value
The study also measured the "relative predictive value" of various biomarkers that could predispose a person to diabetes.
Insulin resistance contributed most strongly, followed by high levels of E-selectin (a marker that indicates problems in blood vessel lining) and low levels of sex hormone binding globulin.
"We are trying to understand what proportion of the risk attributable to low birth weight can indeed be explained by these biochemical intermediates, to understand the relative importance of each pathway," said study senior author Dr. Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University.
Giving doctors a better understanding of how birth weight affects diabetes is the main goal of his research, Liu said.