Infants who gain weight within the first year of life are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes, a Scandinavian study reports.
The research was conducted by a team led by Maria Magnus, Phd, Department of Chronic Diseases, Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Using two population-based cohort studies in Norway and Denmark, data was collected on roughly 100,000 children between February 1998 and July 2009. The children’s changes in weight and length from birth to age 12 months were measured. Six kilogrammes is the mean weight gain during the first year of life.
146 Norwegian and 121 Danish children developed type 1 diabetes and the change in birth weight was positively associated with type 1 diabetes.
The researchers concluded that each kilogramme added to the mean weight gain increased the risk of developing type 1 diabetes by age nine. These findings were similar in both sexes. However, there was no positive association between length increase and type 1 diabetes.
Magnus said: “The findings indicate that the early childhood environment influences the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes.”
Magnus added, though, that weight gain is only one of the many factors that could influence the development of type 1 diabetes. She urged that parents need not seek medical intervention to reduce infant weight during the first year of life to prevent type 1 diabetes developing.
Senior author Lars Steene told MedPage Today: “It is too early to give any advice to change practice regarding infant feeding or weight gain for the purpose of reducing the risk of type 1 diabetes.
“Many factors influence both infant weight gain and risk of type 1 diabetes, and we need more research to work out the explanations for the finding, and how we potentially can modify weight gain in a way that will reduce type 1 diabetes risk without other harmful effects on child health.”
The findings appear online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.