Lower birth weight, fast gain after fourth birthday increase risk of diabetes

Lower birth weight coupled with accelerated weight gain after 48 months of age are risk factors for adult glucose intolerance, according to a new study published online in the journal Diabetes Care.

Meanwhile, accelerated weight gain between birth and 24 months was found in the study not to predict glucose intolerance. It did predict higher insulin resistance, however.

The authors studied more than 6,500 young adults from five low- or middle-income countries: Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, and South Africa. They collected data on each participant's weight at birth, 24 months, 48 months, and adulthood. They calculated the deviation from expected weight gain between those ages.

Participants were then tested for adult fasting glucose, impaired fasting glucose and insulin resistance. The conclusions adjusted for adult waist circumference.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), health care providers are diagnosing an ever increasing number of children with type 2 diabetes, a disease typically diagnosed in patients 40 years or older.

Diabetes in children on the rise
The CDC reports that young people with type 2 diabetes are usually diagnosed between 10 and 19 years old, are obese, and have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes. They are insulin resistant and generally have poor glycemic control.

It’s difficult to diagnose type 2 diabetes in children, according to the CDC. One reason is that children may have mild or no symptoms. Also, a blood test is required to diagnose the disease. Finally, criteria for differentiating between types of diabetes in children are confusing.

Major contributors to the increase in type 2 diabetes in young people include obesity, physical inactivity, and exposure to diabetes in the womb.

The eleven authors of the study were affiliated with nine academic institutions and foundations in seven different countries.

The study will appear in the January 2012 print version of Diabetes Care.

Sources: Diabetes Care journal, Centers for Disease Control

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