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Small-For-Gestational Age Newborns Are Primed to Gain Weight

Small-for-gestational age (SGA) newborn babies appear to have hormone levels conducive to weight gain.

Dr. Gloria Barbosa-Sabanero and colleagues at the University of Guanajuato came to this conclusion after examining blood samples drawn at 1 week after birth from 40 SGA infants and 40 born with normal weight.

As Dr. Barbosa-Sabanero told Reuters Health, “babies with low birth weight (had) increased ghrelin and insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP)-1 levels and decreased insulin-like growth factor-1, IGFBP-3 and leptin levels. These changes are an endocrine adaptation to under-nutrition favoring lipid accumulation.”

Birth weight had a negative independent association with ghrelin and IGFBP-1, and a positive association with IGFBP-3.

In addition, ghrelin circulating levels had an independent negative association with maternal IGFBP-3 and triglycerides.

The findings, say the investigators, are in line with the suggestion that “low leptin levels determine the programming of a decreased hypothalamic connectivity with consequences on food intake in the adult life.”

If true, they conclude, “high ghrelin and low leptin levels in the newborn SGA may be important factors favoring accumulation of fat in later years.”
Clin Endocrinol Jan. 2009;70:41-46.