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Firstborns more likely to have Diabetes

A New Zealand study recently found that firstborns have a reduced level of insulin effectiveness, compared to their counterparts who have older siblings.

It is a known fact that insulin resistance is linked with the emergence of diabetes and high blood pressure, although further research is needed to determine how these findings relate to risks during adulthood. The study came out in the January issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

“Although birth order alone is not a predictor of metabolic or cardiovascular disease, being the first-born child in a family can contribute to a person’s overall risk,” said Wayne Cutfield of the University of Auckland. Cutfield and colleagues found the 21 percent drop in insulin sensitivity among firstborns during their study, which could suggest that birth order may be associated with changes in our metabolism during childhood.

For their study, Cutfield and team examined data on 85 children aged 4 to 11. A total of 32 kids were firstborns.

The researchers set out to compile the children’s lipid and hormone profiles, their height, weight, and body composition. Blood pressure was also monitored using a 24-hour ambulatory device, coupled with frequent blood tests for glucose.

Data showed that the firstborns had a 21 percent lower insulin sensitivity, with a 4 mmHg higher blood pressure. However, the blood lipids generally remained the same.

The researchers suggest that this change in insulin sensitivity could be due to the changes that took place in the uterus during the first pregnancy. Thus, subsequent pregnancies would result in the fetus receiving more nutrients.

“Our results indicate first-born children have these risk factors, but more research:ismeeded to determine how that translates into adult cases of diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions,” said Cutfield. The results could also have strong implications on countries like China, where the population mainly comprises of firstborns due to their one-child policy.

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