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Sep
03

Recent studies: small babies, big adults at risk

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Weight is a common factor when discussing diabetes. Two unrelated studies released this week, however, show how opposite ends of the weight issue can lead to the development of diabetes. Babies born at low birth weights and adults with higher than normal weights were shown to have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Boston University researchers studied more than 20,000 black women ranging from age 21 to 69. They looked at many factors and focused on birth weight and cases of type 2 diabetes later in life.  Babies born at 5.5 pounds or less were 13 times more likely to develop diabetes. Babies born under or near 3 pounds were 40 percent more likely to develop diabetes in adulthood.

The connection between birth weight and adult-onset diabetes is seen in other demographics. Black women were studied because that group is more likely to have low birth weights and is also seen to have higher than normal cases of diabetes. The researchers feel that low birth weight leads to poor lipid regulation and problems with the pancreas.  They also point to theories that low weight at birth and diabetes share the same genetic source.

An unrelated study also released this week looked at the factors linked to the large increase in U.S. diabetes cases. The number of diabetes cases doubled from 1976 to 1980 and doubled again from 1999 to 2004.  The team concludes that skyrocketing obesity is the greatest factor in the diabetes epidemic.

Andy Menke, the lead researcher, explained that there has been a substantial increase in obesity in the U.S. population during the study period. Other factors linked to diabetes include race, ethnicity and age.

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