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Horm Res. 2001;56(5-6):146-50.

Hyperinsulinemia in pre- and post-pubertal children born small for gestational age.

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Hormonal Laboratory, Hospital Materno Infantil Vall d'Hebrón, Barcelona, Spain.



Reduced fetal growth is a potential risk factor for development of metabolic abnormalities in later life. The relationship between low birthweight and impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance in adulthood has been well documented.


Assuming that fetal undernutrition is associated with insulin resistance in middle age, we elected to study whether this process may already be present in young adults and adolescents born small for gestational age (SGA).


Children born in Vall d'Hebron Hospital Infantil, Barcelona, between 1986 and 1989 and between 1978 and 1983 with birthweights below the third centile for the local standard values, were invited to participate in the present study. Of those, 51 (22 girls and 29 boys) were pre-pubertal with 9.4 +/- 0.2 years of age and 49 (29 girls and 20 boys ) were post-pubertal, with 17.3 +/- 0.3 years of age. All patients underwent a standard, 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test. Insulin and glucose responses were compared with our previously published data in control children with normal birthweight.


The insulin response at 30 min after glucose load was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in pre- and post-pubertal girls and boys formerly SGA than in controls. In addition, the girls also had a higher insulin response at 60 and 120 min. Mean serum insulin (MSI), the area under the insulin curve during the glucose challenge, was statistically increased in pre- and post-pubertal boys and girls born SGA when compared to controls.


The presence of high insulin levels after an oral glucose challenge in children and adolescents born SGA might be considered as an early marker of subsequent insulin resistance in adulthood. Furthermore, our population offers the opportunity to study the natural course of hyperinsulinemia and its outcome. Follow-up of this cohort may be helpful in distinguishing a subset of young children and adolescents in whom therapeutic intervention could be done.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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