Patterns of growth among children who later develop type 2 diabetes or its risk factors

Diabetologia. 2006 Dec;49(12):2853-8. doi: 10.1007/s00125-006-0459-1. Epub 2006 Oct 3.


Aims/hypothesis: We studied fetal and childhood growth patterns that are associated with IGT and type 2 diabetes in adult life.

Methods: We examined clinically 2,003 subjects born in Helsinki between 1934 and 1944. They had on average 11 measurements of height and weight between birth and 2 years of age, and seven measurements between 2 and 11 years of age. Glucose tolerance in adult life was assessed by a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test.

Results: We identified 311 subjects with type 2 diabetes and 496 with IGT. Both IGT and type 2 diabetes were associated with low birthweight (p < 0.0001 adjusting for current BMI). The risk of these conditions was increased by low weight gain between birth and 2 years. A 1 SD increase in weight at 2 years was associated with an odds ratio for either type 2 diabetes or IGT of 0.76 (95% CI 0.69-0.84). This effect was greatest in people who had low birthweight. Low growth in the first 6 months after birth was a critical period for the development of insulin resistance in later life; other critical periods were associated with slow fetal growth and rapid increase in BMI between age 2 and 11 years.

Conclusions/interpretation: Low weight gain during infancy increases the risk of IGT and type 2 diabetes. The effect is greater in people who had low birthweight. The first 6 months after birth may be the most critical period for growth, in relation to development of glucose intolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Birth Weight
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / epidemiology
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin