Adults born pre-term with very low birth weights may face increased risk for metabolic syndrome, according to findings published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Low birth weight and prematuity have emerged as risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Globally, around 15 million preterm births occur annually. … A substantial number is also born small for gestational age at term. Most studies have addressed metabolic profile in individuals with low birth weight born premature or without specified gestational age. Adults born very preterm or at very low birth weight have been reported to exhibit higher blood pressure than term-born adults with normal weight.

The study’s primary outcomes were measures of metabolic syndrome: waist circumference, BP, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood glucose. Participants completed a questionnaire pertaining to smoking status, physical activity, medical conditions and medications. The researchers also measured participants’ body weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference to calculate BMI and waist-to-hip ratio.

The researchers defined metabolic syndrome as having any three of the following: central obesity (waist circumference ≥ 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women); triglycerides at least 1.7 mmol/mL; HDL cholesterol less than 1.03 mmol/L in men and less than 1.29 mmol/L in women; being on treatment for high BP or hypertension; fasting plasma glucose of 5.6 mmol/L; and previously diagnosed type 2 diabetes or being treated for diabetes.