Preterm infants more likely to have elevated insulin levels in early childhood

February 11, 2014, The JAMA Network Journals

Researchers have found that preterm infants are more likely to have elevated insulin levels at birth and in early childhood compared to full-term infants, findings that provide additional evidence that preterm birth may be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the February 12 issue of JAMA.

In the United States, 1 in 9 live births are preterm, and l in 5 live births among African Americans are preterm. "There is growing evidence that fetal and early life events may result in permanent metabolic alterations, such as and metabolic syndrome [a combination of risk factors that increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke]. Although available studies in children and adults support the hypothesis that may result in adverse metabolic alterations, it is unclear whether the observed association between preterm birth, later , and type 2 diabetes stems from alterations in insulin metabolism during the in utero [in the uterus] period or in ," according to background information in the article.

Guoying Wang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues tested the hypothesis that preterm birth is associated with elevated plasma insulin levels (indirect evidence of insulin resistance) at birth that persist into early childhood. The study included 1,358 children, born between 1998 and 2010, and followed-up from 2005 to 2012. Random plasma insulin levels were measured at birth and in early childhood.

The researchers found that plasma insulin levels were inversely associated with gestational age at birth and in early childhood. Average insulin levels at birth were 9.2 µIU/mL (micro international units per milliliter) for full term (≥ 39 weeks) and 18.9 µIU/mL for early preterm (<34 weeks) births. In early childhood, random plasma were higher for early term, late preterm, and for early preterm both than those born full term.

"These findings provide additional evidence that preterm birth (and perhaps early term birth as well) may be a risk factor for the future development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Mark Hanson, D.Phil., F.R.C.O.G., of the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton, United Kingdom, writes that "the population studied by Wang et al (i.e., largely urban and minority) has a high risk of preterm birth and also of childhood obesity and later metabolic syndrome."

"The findings confirm the importance of the developmental origins of health and disease concept to such populations and raise questions about the relative effect size longer-term. However, such populations should not be viewed as special cases; they show a continuum of noncommunicable disease (NCD) risk that is initiated by a range of environmental influences operating across the normal range of early development."

"Studies such as that by Wang et al reveal just how early the first steps toward prevention of diabetes may be possible and raise the prospect that rigorous studies of early life interventions could form an important aspect of helping to reduce NCD risk."

Explore further: Insulin sensitivity lower in adults born preterm

More information: DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.1
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.2

Related Stories

Insulin sensitivity lower in adults born preterm

September 27, 2012
(HealthDay)—Middle-aged adults who were born preterm, even moderately preterm (32 to 36 weeks' gestation), are less insulin sensitive compared with adults who were born at term, according to research published in the October ...

Study associates gene with cerebral palsy and death in very preterm babies

February 3, 2014
In a study to be presented on Feb. 6 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in New Orleans, researchers will report that a variant in SERPINE1, a gene involved in inflammation ...

Study correlates neonatal and early childhood outcomes with preterm birth

February 3, 2014
In a study to be presented on Feb. 6 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in New Orleans, researchers will report on a correlation between initial neonatal and early childhood ...

Preterm birth is associated with increased risk of asthma and wheezing disorders

January 28, 2014
Children who are born preterm have an increased risk developing asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood according to new research published in PLOS Medicine.

Study finds cervicovaginal microbiota differs in women to have preterm birth

February 3, 2014
In a study to be presented on Feb. 6 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in New Orleans, researchers will report that cervicovaginal (CV) microbiota differs in the late second ...

Understanding the mystery of preterm birth

November 12, 2013
Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute say there is still a lack of knowledge about the causes of preterm birth and what can be done to prevent it.

Recommended for you

Phone-addicted teens are unhappy, study finds

January 22, 2018
Happiness is not a warm phone, according to a new study exploring the link between adolescent life satisfaction and screen time. Teens whose eyes are habitually glued to their smartphones are markedly unhappier, said study ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

NeuroNext biomarker study explores natural history of infantile-onset SMA

January 9, 2018
Research led by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to define the natural history of infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has been "critical" to accelerate the development of effective therapies and hasten ...

No link between childhood lead levels, later criminality

December 27, 2017
(HealthDay)— Exposure to higher levels of lead during early childhood can affect neurological development—but does that mean affected kids are doomed to delinquency?

Early puberty in girls may take mental health toll

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A girl who gets her first menstrual period early in life—possibly as young as 7—has a greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behaviors that last at least into her 20s, a new study suggests.

Technology not taking over children's lives despite screen-time increase

December 21, 2017
With children spending increasing amounts of time on screen-based devices, there is a common perception that technology is taking over their lives, to the detriment and exclusion of other activities. However, new Oxford University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.