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Very Low Birth Weight Linked to Poor Glucose Regulation

Preterm infants with very low birth weight develop poor glucose regulation as young adults

WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Infants born with a very low birth weight, less than 1,500 grams, have a higher risk of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance as young adults than those born with normal weight, according to a report in the May 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Petteri Hovi, M.D., of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues performed a 75-g oral glucose test in 163 young adults born preterm with a birth weight less than 1,500 g, and in 169 young adults born with normal birth weights. Insulin and glucose levels were measured at baseline and at 120 minutes.

The investigators found that very low birth weight subjects had two-hour glucose concentrations that were 6.7 percent higher than control subjects. Also, insulin concentrations in these subjects were 16.7 percent higher while fasting and 40 percent higher after two hours than their matched controls, giving an 18.9 percent higher insulin-resistance index. In addition, very low birth weight subjects had an average systolic blood pressure that was 4.8 mm Hg higher than controls.

The results suggest "that persons with very low birth weight might be more vulnerable to disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life," the authors conclude. "Lifestyle interventions are effective in preventing these disorders, and the identification of persons at increased risk early in life provides an important opportunity for disease prevention."

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