Ethnic differences in the relationship between birth weight and type 2 diabetes mellitus in postmenopausal women

Diabetes Metab. 2014 Nov;40(5):379-85. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Apr 21.


Aim: The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between self-reported birth weight and the adult occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a large multi-ethnic population of women.

Methods: Baseline data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study [n=75,993] was used to examine the association between participant birth weight category and prevalent type 2 diabetes mellitus. Models were adjusted for age, ethnicity, body mass index and other pertinent risk factors. Sub-analyses were performed stratifying by ethnicity.

Results: There was a strong inverse association between birth weight and type 2 diabetes mellitus with a birth weight of <6 pounds (lbs) (OR: 1.16, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.33) significantly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and a birth weight of ≥10 lbs (OR: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.57, 0.92) associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus compared to women who reported their birth weight between 7 and 8 lbs 15 ounces (oz). Stratifying by ethnicity, the inverse association between birth weight and type 2 diabetes mellitus was only apparent in White women, but not Black, Hispanic or Asian women.

Conclusion: Lower birth weight was associated with increased T2D risk in American White and Black post-menopausal women.

Keywords: Birth weight; Diabetes; Fetal programming.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data*
  • Birth Weight*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*
  • Prevalence
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Women's Health