Previous studies have demonstrated an association between low weight at birth and risk of later development of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It is unknown whether this association may be due to an impact of intrauterine malnutrition per se, or whether it may be due to a coincidence between the putative "NIDDM susceptibility genotype" and a genetically determined low weight at birth. We traced original midwife birthweight record determinations in a group of monozygotic (n = 14 pairs) and dizygotic (n = 14 pairs) twins who phenotypically appeared discordant for NIDDM at a mean age of 67 and 64 years respectively. Birthweights were lower in the NIDDM twins compared with both their identical and non-identical non-diabetic co-twins respectively (p <0.02 both). Using a similar approach in twin pairs discordant for impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) per se, no significantly decreased birthweight was detected in the IGT twins compared with their non-diabetic co-twins. However, when a larger group of twins with different glucose tolerances were considered, birthweights were lower in twins with abnormal glucose tolerance including both NIDDM and IGT. Furthermore, the twins with the lowest birthweights among the two co-twins had the highest plasma glucose concentrations 120 min after the 75 g oral glucose load (n = 86 pairs, p = 0.02). The study supports the hypothesis that low birthweight and a non-genetically determined intrauterine component such af malnutrition may play a role for the development of NIDDM in twins.
Ugeskrift for Laeger, 1998, Vol 160, Issue 16, p. 2382-7