Birthweight is associated with clinical characteristics in people with recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes

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Aims/hypothesis: Low birthweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes but it is unknown whether low birthweight is associated with distinct clinical characteristics at disease onset. We examined whether a lower or higher birthweight in type 2 diabetes is associated with clinically relevant characteristics at disease onset. Methods: Midwife records were traced for 6866 individuals with type 2 diabetes in the Danish Centre for Strategic Research in Type 2 Diabetes (DD2) cohort. Using a cross-sectional design, we assessed age at diagnosis, anthropomorphic measures, comorbidities, medications, metabolic variables and family history of type 2 diabetes in individuals with the lowest 25% of birthweight (<3000 g) and highest 25% of birthweight (>3700 g), compared with a birthweight of 3000–3700 g as reference, using log-binomial and Poisson regression. Continuous relationships across the entire birthweight spectrum were assessed with linear and restricted cubic spline regression. Weighted polygenic scores (PS) for type 2 diabetes and birthweight were calculated to assess the impact of genetic predispositions. Results: Each 1000 g decrease in birthweight was associated with a 3.3 year (95% CI 2.9, 3.8) younger age of diabetes onset, 1.5 kg/m2 (95% CI 1.2, 1.7) lower BMI and 3.9 cm (95% CI 3.3, 4.5) smaller waist circumference. Compared with the reference birthweight, a birthweight of <3000 g was associated with more overall comorbidity (prevalence ratio [PR] for Charlson Comorbidity Index Score ≥3 was 1.36 [95% CI 1.07, 1.73]), having a systolic BP ≥155 mmHg (PR 1.26 [95% CI 0.99, 1.59]), lower prevalence of diabetes-associated neurological disease, less likelihood of family history of type 2 diabetes, use of three or more glucose-lowering drugs (PR 1.33 [95% CI 1.06, 1.65]) and use of three or more antihypertensive drugs (PR 1.09 [95% CI 0.99, 1.20]). Clinically defined low birthweight (<2500 g) yielded stronger associations. Most associations between birthweight and clinical characteristics appeared linear, and a higher birthweight was associated with characteristics mirroring lower birthweight in opposite directions. Results were robust to adjustments for PS representing weighted genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes and birthweight. Conclusion/interpretation: Despite younger age at diagnosis, and fewer individuals with obesity and family history of type 2 diabetes, a birthweight <3000 g was associated with more comorbidities, including a higher systolic BP, as well as with greater use of glucose-lowering and antihypertensive medications, in individuals with recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1680-1692
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Age at diagnosis, Birthweight, Epidemiology, Fetal programming, Polygenic risk score, Type 2 diabetes

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