First-born children have greater diabetes risk

Birth order doesn't just shape personality.

A new study from the University of Auckland's Liggins Institute suggests that it may be a factor in diabetes risk.

Unlucky first borns

First-born children, the study found, are more likely to develop diabetes and high blood pressure. And while researchers aren't entirely sure of all indicators at work to cause these risk factors, it appears first-born children have a more difficult time absorbing sugars, and they also have higher daytime blood pressure than their younger siblings.

"Although birth order alone is not a predictor of metabolic or cardiovascular disease, being the first-born child in a family can contribute to a person's overall risk," said Wayne Cutfield, MBChB, DCH, FRACP, of the University of Auckland.

The study

Researchers analyzed the body composition, lipid profiles, height, weight and hormones of 85 healthy children. The 32 first-born children were seen to have a 21 percent lower rate of insulin sensitivity - a marker that determines how the body can process glucose. The same group of first-borns also had a 4 mmHg increase in blood pressure.

"Our results indicate first-born children have these risk factors, but more research is needed to determine how that translates into adult cases of diabetes, hypertension and other conditions," Cutfield said.

And while first-born children might be predisposed to diabetes, the study also showed that they tend to be slimmer and taller than children born later. Researchers say this has to do with a mother's uterus accommodating with better nutrient absorption after her first pregnancy.

Source: Science Daily

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