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Pediatr Diabetes. 2014 Sep;15(6):453-63. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12109. Epub 2014 Jan 17.

Plasma insulin levels in childhood are related to maternal factors--results of the Ulm Birth Cohort Study.

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Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Medical Center Ulm, 89075, Ulm, Germany.



The cardiovascular risk factor profile of a child as well as the development of body weight are influenced by genetic and childhood factors. Circulating insulin concentrations reflect the metabolic cardiovascular risk and may trigger weight gain. We aimed at identifying parental and childhood factors which may influence fasting plasma insulin concentrations in children.


The Ulm Birth Cohort study (UBCS) is a prospective birth cohort study. At baseline, birth characteristics, maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) values as well as parental socioeconomic parameters were obtained. At the 8-yr follow-up examination, weights, heights, and fasting plasma insulin concentrations in n = 422 children and their parents were measured. Offspring of women with gestational diabetes mellitus were excluded from statistical analysis.


Fasting plasma insulin concentrations of children were significantly correlated with maternal pre-pregnancy BMI values (r = 0.16) as well as with maternal (r = 0.26) but not with paternal fasting plasma insulin concentrations (r = 0.11) at the 8-yr follow-up examination. The risk for high fasting plasma insulin concentrations (≥75th internal percentile) was 2.30 (1.34-3.92) in children who also had high plasma insulin concentrations in umbilical cord blood compared to children having lower plasma insulin concentrations (<75th internal percentile) in umbilical cord blood. In addition, we observed that children with high fasting plasma insulin concentrations at the age of 8 had an altered BMI trajectory in childhood, characterized by higher BMI values from the age of 1 onwards, compared to children with lower insulin concentrations.


Our observations support the hypothesis of perinatal programming of offspring insulin concentrations and BMI values by maternal pre-pregnancy BMI values.


BMI trajectory; insulin; perinatal programming; pre-pregnancy BMI

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