A team, including experts from the University, found two genetic regions that influence birth-weight, one of which is also associated with type 2 diabetes.
It has been known for some time that small babies are more likely to get the illness and that a mother’s diet and nutrition affect her child's weight and future risk of disease, in a process known as "programming".
People who inherit two risk copies of this variant are 25 per cent more likely to get diabetes in adulthood than those who inherit two non-risk copies, and they weigh less at birth.
Nearly one in ten Europeans inherit two copies of a variant in each of the genetic regions identified and are on average 113g lighter at birth than those who inherit one or no copy.
Finding two genes that decrease birth-weight is the first exciting step to unravelling the well known associations between birth-weight and killer diseases in later life. These genes will begin to reveal the biology behind how low birth-weight increases the risk of adult-onset diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure