Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Patrick B. Williams


American Indian and Alaska Native adults are 2.6 times more likely to have adult onset diabetes resulting from higher weight at birth. Pregnant women, providers, and Indian Health Service administrators may benefit from timely information during pregnancy to intervene and prevent Type 2 diabetes. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of birth weight in the development of Type 2 diabetes among Southeast Alaska (SEA) Natives. Guided by the socioecological model, this study examined the extent to which birth weight and gestational age predict the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. The study used a quantitative research design with retrospective analysis of 540 Native children born in SEA whose data were abstracted from birth journals and electronic medical records at ages 43-53. A t test indicated a significant positive correlation between gestational birth weight and incidence of Type 2 diabetes (t(285) = 13.91, p < .001). Birth weight for gestational age was associated with frequency of Type 2 diabetes, where small for gestational age (SGA) had the lowest risk (1.42%), average for gestational age (AGA) at medium risk (8.76%), and large for gestational age (LGA) had the highest risk at 32.25% (x^2(12) = 63.29, p < .0005). Findings indicate that adult Type 2 diabetes among the SEA Native population is due to excess intrauterine fetal weight gain. The positive social change implications include preventing Type 2 diabetes in SEA Natives by controlling weight gain during pregnancy; the findings also suggest using diagnostic risk profiles for those who are LGA at birth for the management of diabetes and prevention of obesity and chronic disease.