Underweight babies are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, according to a new study published in the journal Diabetologia.
Researchers from Brown University, United States, examined over 1,200 women with type 2 diabetes, and roughly 1,800 healthy women without the disease.
Those born below six pounds, an extremely low birth weight, were 1.27 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those born between six and eight pounds. They were 2.15 times more likely to have diabetes compared to women with a birth weight of eight and ten pounds.
Researchers found that factors associated with an increased diabetes risk among those born below six pounds included insulin resistance, high systolic blood pressure, and blood vessel lining abnormalities.
Brown University believes these findings could help deduct which physical processes could be altered due to low birth weight, and subsequently lead to type 2 diabetes.
“To lower one’s risk of developing diabetes later in life, we need to further understand what may prevent some early life events such as low birth weight, particularly concerning specific nutritional strategies that may modify processes of endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, insulin resistance, and sex-hormone metabolism,” said senior study author Dr. Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University.

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