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Preterm Infants More Likely to Have Raised Insulin Levels, Study Finds

Update Date: Feb 12, 2014 09:09 AM EST

Chances of elevated insulin levels in preterm infants are more likely to occur than compared to full-term infants, according to a new study. 

The findings in the study are also hinting that preterm birth may be a risk factor for type 2  diabetes. 

"There is growing evidence that fetal and early life events may result in permanent metabolic alterations, such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome [a combination of risk factors that increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke]," according to background information in the article.

"Although available studies in children and adults support the hypothesis that preterm birth may result in adverse metabolic alterations, it is unclear whether the observed association between preterm birth, later insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes stems from alterations in insulin metabolism during the in utero [in the uterus] period or in early childhood."

Data suggests that in United States, 1 in 9 live births are preterm and among African Americans the ration is 1 to 5. 

Researchers tested the hypothesis that preterm birth is associated with elevated plasma insulin levels at birth and persisted into early childhood. Around 1,358 children, born between 1998 and 2010 were considered to randomly measure the insulin levels in early childhood. 

They found that plasma insulin levels were inversely associated with gestational age at birth as well as in early childhood. 

"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 wrote. 

The findings of the study has been published in February issue of JAMA

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