(HealthDay News) – Heavier baby girls are at increased risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease at age 17 years than are overweight baby boys, according to a study published online March 22 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Rae-Chi Huang, MD, PhD, of the University of Western Australia in Perth, and colleagues measured anthropometry; blood pressure; and fasting insulin, glucose, and lipids in 1,053 Australian 17-year-olds from a birth cohort (the Raine Study). Two-step cluster analysis identified participants at high metabolic risk; the risk groups were compared by sex, with regard to birth weight.

The researchers found that the high-risk metabolic cluster included 16% of males and 19% of females. The high-risk cluster participants had significantly greater waist circumference, triglycerides, insulin, and systolic blood pressure and significantly lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol than the low-risk group. A significant birth weight by sex interaction was seen on the metabolic cluster outcome. Females in the high-risk cluster were significantly heavier from birth (odds ratio [OR], 1.8), with consistently higher body mass index and skinfold thickness thereafter, compared to the low-risk participants. No statistical difference was seen in birth weight for high- and low-risk males (OR, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.38–1.02).

“These data show sexual dimorphism in effects of early life body mass index and fat distribution upon cardiometabolic risk factors,” the authors write. “This has implications for targeted prevention of obesity and metabolic diseases with increasing maternal obesity and gestational diabetes.”

Several of the authors hold grants relevant to the funding of the Raine Study.

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