Children born with low birth weight due to genetic factors are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, finds a new study.
The findings showed that the low birth weight was actually causing excess risk in Type 2 diabetes.
“A genetically lowered birth weight was associated with increased susceptibility to Type 2 diabetes,” said Tiange Wang from Tulane University in the US.
Low birth can cause restricted intrauterine growth (foetal growth) — a condition in which an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb.
Further, this restricted foetal growth also represents a risk factor for the low birth weight and in turn causing the Type 2 diabetes. Risk factors for restricted intrauterine growth include malnutrition, anaemia, infections and placental insufficiency.
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“Our findings support a potential causal relation between birth weight and risk of Type 2 diabetes, providing novel evidence to support the role of intrauterine exposures in the pathogenesis of Type 2 diabetes,” Wang added.
Evidence from both population and experimental studies has suggested that restricted early life development has long-term structural and functional influence on individuals’ predisposition to an increased risk of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, said the paper published in the journal Diabetologia.
The study included 3627 Type 2 diabetes cases and 12,974 controls.
The team created a genetic risk score (GRS) based on five low birth weight-related genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
The analysis showed that for each one point increase in GRS (with the score ranging from 1-10), the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increased by six per cent.