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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20595. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020595. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

Impact of birth weight and early infant weight gain on insulin resistance and associated cardiovascular risk factors in adolescence.

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  • 1University Department of Neonatology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Low birth weight followed by accelerated weight gain during early childhood has been associated with adverse metabolic and cardiovascular outcomes later in life. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of early infant weight gain on glucose metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors in adolescence and to study if the effect differed between adolescents born small for gestational age (SGA) vs. appropriate for gestational age (AGA).


Data from 30 SGA and 57 AGA healthy young Danish adolescents were analysed. They had a mean age of 17.6 years and all were born at term. Data on early infant weight gain from birth to three months as well as from birth to one year were available in the majority of subjects. In adolescence, glucose metabolism was assessed by a simplified intravenous glucose tolerance test and body composition was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Blood pressures as well as plasma concentrations of triglycerides and cholesterol were measured. Early infant weight gain from birth to three months was positively associated with the fasting insulin concentration, HOMA-IR, basal lipid levels and systolic blood pressure at 17 years. There was a differential effect of postnatal weight gain on HOMA-IR in AGA and SGA participants (P for interaction = 0.03). No significant associations were seen between postnatal weight gain and body composition or parameters of glucose metabolism assessed by the simplified intravenous glucose tolerance test. In subgroup analysis, all associations with early infant weight gain were absent in the AGA group, but the associations with basal insulin and HOMA-IR were still present in the SGA group.


This study suggests that accelerated growth during the first three months of life may confer an increased risk of later metabolic disturbances--particularly of glucose metabolism--in individuals born SGA.

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