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J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2001;14 Suppl 5:1361-3; discussion 1365.

Influence of fetal body weight on metabolic complications in adult life: review of the evidence.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Red Cross Hospital, Athens, Greece.


Numerous mainly cross-sectional studies have unequivocally shown an inverse relationship between birth weight of infants born at term and the incidence of impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, hypertension and coronary heart disease. These findings apply to both sexes and are not modified by confounding factors such as age or body mass index. Although the original studies in the UK involved a relatively small number of subjects whose records of birth weight were traced back more than 50 years earlier, similar findings were recorded from larger prospective studies in the USA and Northern Europe. Studies in twins did not support the theory that genetic factors predispose both to low birth weight and morbidity from impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance or coronary heart disease, and current evidence points to a resetting of major hormonal axes that control growth and metabolic processes as a possible cause of this association.

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