Several studies have consistently shown that babies born weighing 6 pounds or less face a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes by the time they are adults. A new study from a team of researchers at Brown University corroborated these past findings through an assessment of more than 3,000 women, revealing the relative predictive value of several biomarkers – useful as a tool for understanding individual risk among low birth-weight females.
These results could also be useful in guiding researchers through the process of understanding faulty physiological processes caused by low birth-weight, which can ultimately result in the patient developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.
Dr. Simin Liu, senior author, explained in a press release: “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.”
The study, titled “Birthweight, mediating biomarkers and the development of type 2 diabetes later in life: a prospective study of multi-ethnic women“, was published in the Diabetologia journal, and it was supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The project enrolled 1,259 women that developed type 2 diabetes and 1,790 that did not develop the disease.
The researchers found that those born weighing less than 6 pounds evidenced a 2.15 higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in comparison to those that were born weighing between 8 to 10 pounds. “This risk calculation adjusted for a variety of other possible confounding variables such as smoking, drinking, exercise, diet, body-mass index, race, ethnicity, and family history of diabetes,” as explained in the press release.
The study also found the following anomalies among the low birth weight participants: Insulin resistance (47 percent), high levels of E-selectin related with problems in blood vessel lining (25 percent), low levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (24 percent) and high systolic blood pressure (8 percent).
“These prospective data provide quantifiable mechanistic evidence linking low birth-weight to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while presenting risk stratification in a population at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life,” concluded Liu and co-author Yan Song. Their team is in high hopes these findings will give a better and refined understanding of relative risk for type 2 diabetes in low birth-weight women.