Birthweight strongly linked to sort 2 diabetes threat in maturity


A birth weight of 2.5 kg or more is strongly associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. This emerges from the online journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

It has been linked to lower circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1 for short, a hormone similar to insulin that affects child growth and energy metabolism in adults.

Convincing evidence suggests that susceptibility to type 2 diabetes over the course of life is collectively determined by risk factors in both early life and adulthood, the researchers say.

To find out whether there is a link between circulating IGF-1 levels in adults, birth weight and the risk of type 2 diabetes, the researchers relied on data from 112,736 women and 68,354 men who participated in the UK Biobank study participated.

The UK Biobank is a large population-based study that involved 37- to 73-year-old participants between 2006 and 2010. It tracks the possible effects of genetic and lifestyle factors on a variety of common diseases of middle and old age.

When recruiting, participants provided social and demographic details, as well as information about their usual diet, lifestyle (smoking status, alcohol consumption, length of sleep, and habitual physical activity), early life factors (birth weight and maternal smoking), and their medical history.

They also provided blood, urine, and saliva samples and measured their height, weight, body mass index (BMI), girths (waist, hips, and limbs), and skin fold thickness.

The blood was tested for IGF-1, cholesterol, triglycerides, and an indicator of inflammation, C-reactive protein. Repeated measurements of IGF-1 were available from 17,699 participants. Information on the development of type 2 diabetes was obtained from self-reports, hospital records, and death certificates.

During an average monitoring period of nearly 10 years, 3,299 people developed type 2 diabetes.

Participants with lower IGF-1 levels tended to be older and more likely to live in a deprived area. They were also more likely to have lifestyle and clinical risk factors for diabetes.

Nevertheless, there was a clear inverse relationship between IGF-1 levels and type 2 diabetes: the lower the IGF-1 level, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, birth weight changed this relationship considerably, but only for those whose weight at birth was 2.5 kg or more, and only for men.

Compared to those in the lowest 20% of IGF-1 levels, the likelihood of type 2 diabetes was 14% lower in the second lowest 20% and up to 36% lower in the highest 20% of IGF-1 levels.

The results agreed regardless of a genetic predisposition for birth weight.

This is an observational study and as such cannot determine a cause. There was also no information on whether the births were premature, of legal age, or on ethnicity – factors that could well have an impact, the researchers say.

Nevertheless, their results agree with those of other epidemiological studies. “Our results underscore the importance of early life risk factors in developing CV prevention strategies that target IGF-1 and IGF-1 [type 2 diabetes]”, Close.


External appraisal? Yes

Evidence type: observational

Topics: people

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