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Twins, low birth weight, diabetes and Reuters News Agency.

Stefan Johansson


Our latest research paper, about low birth weight and later risk of developing type 2 diabetes, was recently published in Epidemiology. (Abstract - click here!) I feel relieved, it was a lot of hard work to do the study, and not the least, to get it published.

Therefore, I got happy when Reuters News Agency wrote about it (click here or here to read the article!) :)

There are many reports showing a link between low birth weight and type 2 diabetes; the lower the birth weight, the higher the risk. However, as discussed in Lancet already in 1999 (Hattersley, Lancet 1999;353:1789-92), there may be no causal link between low birth weight and type 2 diabetes. Instead, the two problems could be explained by a common genetic background, i.e. the same genes may increase the risk for both low birth weight and type2 diabetes. And, by using a large twin cohort, we could demonstrate that the association between LBW and type 2 diabetes seems to subjected to such "genetic confounding".

Our findings contrast to the current paradigm (that poor fetal nutrition would leading to low birth weight would "program" the fetus to develop diabetes later in life). I think we experienced a bit of negative publication bias before the paper was finally (and easily) accepted in Epidemiology. Reviewers in the "Big-Medical-Journals-With-Wellknown-Abbreviations" were a bit unfair in their judgements. (It seemed that they 1) did not understand twin study methodology as such, and 2) did not believe our findings could be true).

With this in mind, I was glad and surprised that a medical writer from Reuters News Agency got in touch once the paper was published. Joene Hendry wrote a very nice article about the study. Unfortunately I am not allowed to share this article with you here. Reproduction of Reuter's material is strictly prohibited, and a permission would be (at least) 800USD! But if you're curious, click on the links above to read it at the Reuters web site or at MedlinePlus.


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