Birth weight within the normal range is associated with a variety of adult-onset diseases, but the mechanisms behind these associations are poorly understood. Previous genome-wide association studies of birth weight identified a variant in the ADCY5 gene associated both with birth weight and type 2 diabetes and a second variant, near CCNL1, with no obvious link to adult traits. In an expanded genome-wide association meta-analysis and follow-up study of birth weight (of up to 69,308 individuals of European descent from 43 studies), we have now extended the number of loci associated at genome-wide significance to 7, accounting for a similar proportion of variance as maternal smoking. Five of the loci are known to be associated with other phenotypes: ADCY5 and CDKAL1 with type 2 diabetes, ADRB1 with adult blood pressure and HMGA2 and LCORL with adult height. Our findings highlight genetic links between fetal growth and postnatal growth and metabolism.
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