"Children and adults who were born prematurely may need earlier screening and clinical follow-up for diabetes, and more aggressive lifestyle interventions to help prevent it," said the study author.
Premature babies are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, a study recently found.
Researchers followed 4,193,069 singleton babies born in Sweden between 1973 and 2014 for an average of 23 years and for some, around 43 years. About 27,512 cases were found to have type 1 diabetes while 5,525 babies had type 2 diabetes.
The babies studied were born prematurely and had a 21 per cent increased relative risk of type 1 diabetes and a 49 per cent increased risk of type 2. Again, premature girls were found to be more at risk as compared to boys. “The associations between preterm birth and type 2 (but not type 1) diabetes were significantly stronger among females,” the study mentioned. The study controlled for maternal age, education, body mass index, smoking, diabetes during pregnancy and other factors.
“Most children born preterm do well over time, but they have modestly increased risks for various disorders. Children and adults who were born prematurely may need earlier screening and clinical follow-up for diabetes, and more aggressive lifestyle interventions to help prevent it,” said the lead author, Dr Casey Crump, professor of family medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
As for the underlying mechanisms linking premature birth to diabetes, the study suggests, “These findings may have multiple underlying mechanisms that involve pancreatic beta cell function and insulin resistance. Preterm birth interrupts the development of pancreatic beta cells, which are formed predominantly in the third trimester of pregnancy, and might permanently reduce their number or function. Preterm birth also alters immune function including T cell response (a type of lymphocyte), which may potentially mediate its association with type 1 diabetes, consistent with its autoimmune aetiology.”
Previous studies also had similar results associating premature birth and diabetes. A 2007 study in Finland, for instance, also concluded that preterm babies have blood sugar problems including prediabetes, insulin resistance and early warning signs of diabetes risk.
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