A link between a low birth weight and the development of diabetes in later life has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol.
It is thought that one of two gene regions that alter a child's size at birth is also linked to type 2 diabetes.
"Our study shows that genes are part of the reason why babies born with a lower birth weight are more at risk of type 2 diabetes 50 or 60 years later," said Dr Rachel Freathy of the University of Bristol and Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, who was part of the research team.
She added: "It is now important for us to establish how much of the association is due to our genes and how much is due to the environment because this will inform how we target efforts to prevent the disease."
A deficiency in the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar, is the common reason for type 2 diabetes.
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle have been proven to combat the problem, however, some patients may still require medication.