Premature Birth Linked To Higher Insulin Levels In Children

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Babies born prematurely may suffer an increased risk of diabetes later in life, according to research conducted at Johns Hopkins University. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surveyed data on 1,358 babies whose insulin levels were checked at birth and later in life.

The results showed that babies and young children have higher insulin levels when born before full term. Those with the highest levels are those born prematurely.

"The effect is greater the earlier the baby is born, possibly because whatever induced the preterm labor may have altered the settings of the baby's pancreas-control system," said study co-author Mark Hanson.

In the U.S. one of every nine babies is born prematurely. The rate is one in five for black Americans.

"We could identify babies potentially at risk right from birth and alert pediatricians and parents to pay more attention to future risk of metabolic disease," said study co-author Dr. Xiaobin Wang.

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