Prematurity is not associated with reduced insulin sensitivity in adulthood

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 May;94(5):1695-700. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-1769. Epub 2009 Mar 3.


Background: In 2005, 12.7% of all babies were born preterm, and the incidence is rising. Nowadays, due to improved survival, an increasing number of children born preterm reach young adulthood. A recent report suggested lower insulin sensitivity in children born preterm, which may put them at risk for the development of type 2 diabetes. It is, however, still unknown whether this reduced insulin sensitivity persists into adulthood.

Methods: We determined insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function with frequently sampled iv glucose tolerance tests in 305 young adults (aged 18-24 yr; 169 preterm and 136 term). Adult body composition was measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. We investigated the effect of gestational age, size at birth, and adult body composition on insulin sensitivity.

Results: In contrast to previous reports, we found no evidence that preterm birth has a deleterious effect on insulin sensitivity in young adulthood. Adult trunk fat and the use of oral contraceptives in women were the most important determinants of insulin insensitivity, independently of size at birth and duration of pregnancy.

Conclusion: Contrary to our hypothesis, preterm birth was not associated with reduced insulin sensitivity in young adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / physiology*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Function Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin