Background: Individuals born small for gestational age (SGA) are at increased risk of rapid postnatal weight gain, later obesity and diseases in adulthood such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Environmental risk factors for SGA are well established and include smoking, low pregnancy weight, maternal short stature, maternal diet, ethnic origin of mother and hypertension. However, in a large proportion of SGA, no underlying cause is evident, and these individuals may have a larger genetic contribution.
Methods: In this study we tested the association between SGA and polymorphisms in genes that have previously been associated with obesity and/or diabetes. We undertook analysis of 54 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 546 samples from the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative (ABC) study. 227 children were born small for gestational age (SGA) and 319 were appropriate for gestational age (AGA).
Results and conclusion: The results demonstrated that genetic variation in KCNJ11, BDNF, PFKP, PTER and SEC16B were associated with SGA and support the concept that genetic factors associated with obesity and/or type 2 diabetes are more prevalent in those born SGA compared to those born AGA. We have previously determined that environmental factors are associated with differences in birthweight in the ABC study and now we have demonstrated a significant genetic contribution, suggesting that the interaction between genetics and the environment are important.