Background: Telomere length at birth is a major determinant of telomere length in late adulthood. However, the prenatal setting of telomere length is poorly understood. Individuals born large from non-diabetic mothers are at lower risk for later-life disorders than those born small, a feature of their longer health span being a higher lean mass that provides more muscle strength and that is already present in infancy.
Objective, hypotheses & methods: At birth, we studied leukocyte telomere length (by quantitative polymerase chain reaction) in 103 small-, appropriate- or large-for-gestational-age (SGA, AGA, LGA) infants born after uncomplicated, term, singleton pregnancies. All infants were breastfed for ≥4 months. At 2 weeks and 12 months, body composition was assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry.
Results: Telomere lengths were shorter in SGA newborns and longer in LGA newborns than in AGA newborns (P<0.001), also after adjustment for maternal age, pre-gestational body mass index, gestational weight gain, and gestational age. Telomere length at birth associated (all P≤0.001) to birth weight (r=0.50) and to both lean mass (r=0.43) and fat mass (r=0.48) at age 2 weeks, but only to lean mass at 12 months (r=0.51).
Conclusion: Higher weight and longer telomeres at birth are followed by more lean mass in late infancy.
10 - 12 Sep 2016
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology