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Diabetologia. 2004 Jan;47(1):12-8. Epub 2003 Nov 26.

Birthweight of offspring and paternal insulin resistance and paternal diabetes in late adulthood: cross sectional survey.

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Department of Primary Care and Population Science, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Rowland Hill St, NW3 2PF London, UK.



It has been proposed that genetic factors involved in insulin action could explain part of the link between low birthweight and risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adulthood. To confirm this we examined the association between offspring birthweight and paternal insulin resistance and diabetes in late adulthood.


We did a cross-sectional survey of 4252 men who were 60 to 79 years of age and from 24 British towns. Of these, 2788 men provided details of their offsprings' birthweight and sex.


Offspring birthweight was inversely associated with paternal insulin resistance defined by the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) score and with Type 2 diabetes in late adulthood. Fathers of offspring in the highest quartile of sex-standardised birthweight SD scores had a 34% reduction in odds of having a high HOMA insulin resistance score (OR=0.66, 95% CI: 0.47 to 0.92) compared with fathers of offspring in the lowest quartile after adjustment for potential confounders. A stronger inverse association was seen between offspring birthweight and risk of paternal diabetes (adjusted OR=0.59, 95% CI: 0.39 to 0.88 top quartile vs lowest quartile). For each increase of offspring-birthweight SD score the odds of high HOMA scores decreased by 13% (OR=0.87, 95% CI: 0.78 to 0.98) and the odds for diabetes by 17% (OR=0.83, 95% CI: 0.72 to 0.95), after full adjustment.


Offspring birthweight is inversely associated with paternal insulin resistance and diabetes in late adulthood, supporting the hypothesis that genetic factors related to insulin action contribute to the association between birthweight and adult cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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