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Preemies could be more at risk for diabetes

MINNEAPOLIS -- Premature infants are more likely to develop high blood pressure and show signs of insulin resistance as young adults, a comprehensive study from Finland shows.

Both conditions may make people who were born early and with low birth weights vulnerable to diabetes and heart disease, the report in yesterday's New England Journal of Medicine found. The results support the theory that the environment in the womb may have lasting effects.

They tracked 163 adults born between 1978 and 1985 with very low birth weights who were treated at Helsinki University Central Hospital. Those born prematurely were more likely than full-term infants to have hypertension and insulin resistance.

Most premature infants live healthy lives as young adults and need no special care, said Petteri Hovi, lead researcher and a pediatric specialist from the National Public Health Institute.