Posted in: Health Studies

Diabetes Risk Greater In First-Born [Study]

increasing risk of diabetes and heart disease

First-born children are more predisposed to develop Type 2 diabetes and heart problems, according to an observational study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Eighty-five healthy preteen children, ages 4 to 11, with an initial birth-weight appropriate for gestational age were analyzed. Of the 85 participants: 32 were first-born, 53 were later-born. Clinical assessment profiles included 24-hour blood pressure monitoring and frequent intravenous glucose screenings.

It was assessed first-borns were statistically taller and thinner than later-born children. However first-born children demonstrated reduced insulin sensitivity by 21 percent, and had a higher daytime blood pressure compared to their later-born peers. Blood lipid (cholesterol and fat) levels were unaffected by birth order.

Overall it was determined first-borns have a greater risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular diseases in adult life.

Diabetes is a chronic condition defined by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both. Insulin, a hormone, is produced in the pancreas (gland) and is responsible for regulating the amount of glucose circulating in the body. Without it, cells cannot properly utilize and convert glucose into energy. This leads to an increase in blood-sugar.

There are two major types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body produces little to no insulin as the body destroys the beta cells produced, and the afflicted require taking daily injections to live.

Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent and non-insulin dependent. Either the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin adequately. This is called insulin resistance. When there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose (sugar) can’t get into the body’s cells for the intended purpose of energy. Glucose builds up in the blood.

Hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, too much or too little blood sugar, circulating in the body can cause short and long term health problems. Failure to consistently regulate blood sugar can result in blindness, amputations, and death.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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