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Low birthweight is associated with a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes over two decades independent of adult BMI and genetic predisposition – published online 12/06/2023

Rasmus Wibaek, Gregers S. Andersen, Allan Linneberg, Torben Hansen, Niels Grarup, Anne Cathrine B. Thuesen, Rasmus T. Jensen, Jonathan C. K. Wells, Kasper A. Pilgaard, Charlotte Brøns, Dorte Vistisen, Allan A. Vaag

Over the past three decades, longitudinal studies have consistently found lower birthweight to be associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes, but prospective data on diabetes incidence are lacking. In this issue, Wibaek et al (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-023-05937-0) used data on objectively measured birthweight from original midwife records dating back to 1939−1971, and in a large sample of middle-aged to older adults examined the influence of birthweight on age- and sex-specific incidence of type 2 diabetes over two decades, from 1999−2020. The authors show that type 2 diabetes incidence rate increased with age, was higher in male participants, and that the absolute rate of increase was markedly higher in individuals born with lower birthweight compared with higher birthweight in a dose−response manner. Altogether, birthweight, genetic susceptibility of type 2 diabetes and adult adiposity (BMI) were found to be strong and independent risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The authors conclude that, within the era of precision medicine, birthweight holds strong potential to be used as a feasible marker to guide clinical care and treatment in type 2 diabetes.

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