Relation of fetal growth to adult muscle mass and glucose tolerance

Diabet Med. 1995 Aug;12(8):686-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.1995.tb00570.x.


Recent studies show reduced fetal growth is associated with insulin resistance and a raised prevalence of glucose intolerance in adult life. Because early growth retardation in animal models leads to permanent changes in body composition and a reduction in the mass of muscle, a major insulin sensitive tissue, reduced adult muscle mass could explain the link between impaired fetal growth and glucose intolerance. To investigate this hypothesis, muscle mass has been determined in a group of men and women aged around 50 who were born in Preston, Lancashire and compared with their birthweight or body size at birth and their current insulin resistance and glucose tolerance. Subjects who had lower birthweights were shorter and lighter but their weight adjusted for height (BMI) was similar to that of other subjects. Much of the difference in weight was accounted for by a reduction in muscle mass. Muscle mass as estimated by the urinary creatinine excretion rose from 18.8% of body weight in women who had birthweights of 2.5 kg or less to 24.7% of bodyweight in those with birthweights of 3.4 kg or more. Trends in men were similar. Regression analysis showed that adult muscle mass was predicted by low birthweight (p = 0.004), low placental weight (p = 0.02), and small head circumference (p = 0.02) but not, however, by thinness at birth, the birth measurement most predictive of insulin resistance. In addition there were no significant relationships between muscle mass and insulin resistance or glucose tolerance in either men or women.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Birth Weight
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Weight
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • England
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Registries
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Blood Glucose