Diabetes gene raises odds of lower birth weight

July 29, 2009

Pediatric researchers have found that a gene previously shown to be involved in the development of type 2 diabetes also predisposes children to having a lower birth weight. The finding sheds light on a possible genetic influence on how prenatal events may set the stage for developing diabetes in later childhood or adulthood.

Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine published the study July 10 in the online version of the journal Diabetes.

"It's a bit unusual to find a gene linked to both prenatal events and to a disease that occurs later in life," said study leader Struan F.A. Grant, Ph.D., a researcher at the Center for Applied Genomics of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "This gene variant carries a double whammy, in raising the risk of both lower birth weight and the development of type 2 diabetes in later life."

Type 2 diabetes occurs either when the pancreas produces too little insulin or when the body cannot efficiently use the insulin that is produced. Formerly called adult-onset diabetes and still most common in adults, type 2 diabetes has been increasing sharply among children.

Grant and study co-leader Hakon Hakonarson, Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at Children's Hospital, investigated 20 gene locations previously reported to be associated with type 2 diabetes. Drawing on a cohort of some 5,700 Caucasian children in an ongoing genome-wide association study of childhood obesity at Children's Hospital, the researchers compared birth weights with the occurrence of the 20 gene variants.

They found that one of the gene variants, called CDKAL1, had a strong association with lower birth weight--a finding that supports the so-called fetal insulin hypothesis. Previous studies by European diabetes researchers, said Grant, had suggested that CDKAL1 was implicated in both lower birth weight and type 2 diabetes, and the current study, using a large sample size, reinforced that association.

Under the fetal insulin hypothesis, a slight underproduction of insulin, an important fetal growth factor, during the prenatal period may cause a baby to be born smaller. Low birth weight is already known to increase the risk of disease later in life, and the fetal insulin hypothesis proposes that the same gene that causes lower birth weight also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"The mechanisms by which CDKAL1 may act are not well understood, but it is believed to reduce insulin secretion, and that underproduction contributes to type 2 diabetes," said Grant. He added that further research may investigate biological pathways on which the gene functions, and may also study whether it may influence the risk of developing other diseases in later life.
-end-
The National Institutes of Health, the Cotswold Foundation and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia supported this study. Grant and Hakonarson, and their co-authors, are from both The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.