Infants who grow fast are more prone to becoming diabetics
But scientists have yet to find out why.
Babies gain an average of six kilos in their first year. For each kilo above that average at 12 months raises the risks of developing diabetes by the age of nine.
This has been found in a new study carried out with statistics from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. The researchers took children’s growth, both height and weight, and correlated these with how many developed diabetes type 1 by age nine.
It remains a mystery what this extra weight increase could be attributed to and how it actually ties in with diabetes.
No definite cause
“Such weight gains are complicated and is influenced by a variety of factors. We know that breastfeeding and what a child is fed can be vital, but we have no ample explanation for many of the variations in the weight gain,” says Lars Christian Stene.
Stene is one of the researchers behind the study, which was implemented by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and recently published in JAMA Pediatrics.
Stene emphasises that this divulged no causal information nor the need for new guidelines to be used by health personnel. Weight is just one of many possible factors which can cause diabetes.
He points out that the results of the study do not give parents with infants any reason to be alarmed or to try to keep their child from gaining weight.
“It’s hard to figure what the next step should be. What’s essential is to avert side-effects by initiating measures that hinder the child from obtaining adequate growth.”
Genes and environment
Medical science still knows little about the cause of this form of diabetes. There are no known preventive steps to take. Stene and his colleagues think this study could indicate that something environmental can trigger it. But they are uncertain about what that might be.
This was primarily and observational study. This means that there is no certitude that the weight gains caused diabetes 1. The study only shows that children who put on more than average weight were more likely to contract the disease later in life.
The researchers also looked at corresponding statistics from Denmark and found the same tendencies as in Norway.
Stene hopes now that this study will help narrow the area researchers need to explore in further attempts at tracking down the causes of the disease.
Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no
Translated by: Glenn Ostling
- Magnus, M.C. (et al.) Infant Growth and Risk of Childhood-Onset Type 1 Diabetes in Children From Scandinavian Birth Cohorts. JAMA Pediatrics (2015)