(HealthDay News) — Gestational age is inversely associated with insulin levels at birth, according to a study published in the February 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Guoying Wang, MD, from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined whether preterm birth is associated with elevated plasma insulin levels at birth in a cohort of 1,358 children. The participants were recruited at birth from 1998–2010 and followed prospectively from 2005–2012.

The researchers found that, compared with those born full term, insulin levels at birth were 1.13-fold higher for early term (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.97–1.28), 1.45-fold higher for late preterm (95% CI, 1.25–1.65), and 2.05-fold higher for early preterm (95 percent CI, 1.69 to 2.42). Random plasma insulin levels in early childhood were 1.12-fold (95% CI, 0.99–1.25), 1.19-fold (95% CI, 1.02–1.35), and 1.31-fold (95% CI, 1.10–1.52) higher for early term, late preterm, and early preterm, respectively, compared with those born full term. After adjustment for postnatal weight gain, the correlation was attenuated. The correlation was not significant after adjustment for insulin levels at birth. Infants in the top insulin tertile at birth were more likely to remain in the top tertile in early childhood than those ranked in the lowest tertile.

“There was an inverse association between gestational age and elevated plasma insulin levels at birth and in early childhood,” the authors write. “The implications for future development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes warrant further investigation.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Novo Nordisk.

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