Preterm birth should be considered a risk factor for diabetes later in life

Preterm birth is defined as babies born before 37 weeks gestations according to the CDC. One in every 10 infants is born preterm and is at risk for various health problems such as developmental delays, hearing or sight problems, among others (CDC 2019).  


A prior link between preterm birth and diabetes early in life has been determined, but a study recently published by Crump and colleagues looks further into the association with a large population-based study.  


Data from over 4 million people was analyzed using the Swedish Birth Registry. From this database, they found that preterm birth caused a 21% and 26% increased risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes respectively later in life (Minerd 2019). It also unexpectedly showed a stronger correlation between preterm females developing type 2 diabetes than with males (Crump et al 2019).  


Based on the results of this study the authors note that “Preterm birth should now be recognised as a chronic condition that predisposes to the development of diabetes across the life course. Physicians currently seldom seek birth histories from adult patients, and thus preterm birth may remain a ‘hidden’ risk factor (Crump et al 2019).” 


For more information on preterm birth visit the March of Dimes 

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