The impact of birthweight on subsequent phenotype of type 2 diabetes in later life

Christian Paulina, Louise A. Donnelly, Ewan R. Pearson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: It is well established that low birthweight is associated with subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). The aim of our study was to use a large birth cohort linked to a national diabetes registry to investigate how birthweight impacts the phenotype at diagnosis of T2DM and the subsequent rate of glycaemic deterioration.

Methods: We linked the Walker Birth Cohort (48,000 births, 1952–1966, Tayside, Scotland) to the national diabetes registry in Scotland (SCI-Diabetes). Birthweight was adjusted for gestational age. Simple linear regression was performed to assess the impact of the adjusted birthweight on the diabetes phenotype at diagnosis. This was then built up into a multiple regression model to allow for the adjustment of confounding variables. A cox proportional hazards model was then used to evaluate the impact of birthweight on diabetes progression.

Results: Lower birthweights were associated with a 293 day younger age of diagnosis of T2DM per 1 kg reduction in birthweight, p = 0.005; and a 1.29 kg/m 2 lower BMI at diagnosis per 1 kg reduction in birthweight, p < 0.001. There was no significant association of birthweight on diabetes progression.

Conclusion: For the first time, we have shown that a lower birthweight is associated with younger onset of T2DM, with those with lower birthweight also being slimmer at diagnosis. These results suggest that lower birthweight impacts on T2DM phenotype via reduced beta-cell function rather than insulin resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14792
Number of pages7
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number7
Early online date14 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • low birth weight
  • prediction of diabetes
  • thrifty phenotype
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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