Leptin concentrations in cord blood in normal newborn infants and offspring of diabetic mothers

Horm Metab Res. 1999 Aug;31(8):467-71. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-978776.


Leptin has been implicated in the regulation of body weight and energy balance; Leptin is produced by adipocytes and placental tissue. Chronic fetal hyperinsulinemia and accelerated fetal growth with increased amounts of body fat are frequent findings in the offspring of diabetic mothers. In this study, we examined whether leptin levels in cord blood of infants of type 1 diabetic mothers (n = 29), gestational diabetic mothers (n = 6 and controls (n = 96) correlated with level of maternal glucose control, maternal leptin level at delivery, gender, fetal and placental size, and C-peptide in cord blood at birth. Leptin was significantly elevated in infants of type 1 diabetic (24.7 ng/ml) and gestational diabetic mothers (29.3 ng/ml) as compared to controls (7.9 ng/ml). C-peptide was also significantly higher in infants of type 1 diabetic (0.91 nmol/l) and gestational diabetic mothers (0.99 nmol/l) vs controls (0.34 nmol/l). Infants of type 1 diabetic mothers with a leptin level in cord blood above the upper normal range, i.e. > 30 ng/ml (n = 13), had an average maternal HbA1c level of 5.4% (normal < 5.5%) that was not different from 5.2% in infants with a leptin level < 30 ng/ml (n = 15). In both neonatal groups of diabetic mothers, leptin in cord blood did not correlate with maternal leptin concentrations, placental weight, birthweight, gender and cord blood C-peptide. In controls, leptin in cord blood was higher in girls than in boys (p = 0.044) and correlated significantly with birthweight (p = 0.41, p < 0.001) and cord blood C-peptide (p = 0.44, p < 0.001) but not with maternal leptin level or placental weight. The 3-4 times higher leptin levels in the offspring of diabetic mothers than normal could reflect increased adipose tissue mass and/or increased contribution from other sources such as placental tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leptin
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Placenta / anatomy & histology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / blood*
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Sex Characteristics


  • C-Peptide
  • Leptin
  • Proteins