Babies born early (even just one or two weeks before the 37 weeks of a full-term pregnancy) may be at a slightly higher risk of diabetes in adulthood, according to a Diabetes Care paper and reported by Reuters Health.

For the study, researchers used a national prescription database to track the use of diabetes medications by more than 600,000 people born in Sweden between 1973 and 1979. Of those participants, roughly 28,000 were preemies.

Researchers found that 15 out of 1,000 of these preemies had diabetes by the time they hit their 20s and 30s compared with 12 out of 1,000 full-term babies.

The results suggest that doctors need to recognize that preterm birth is a risk factor for diabetes in later life and that preemies, as they grow older, must also avoid other risk factors for diabetes, such as being overweight and inactive and having high blood pressure, said Casey Crump, MD, PhD, coauthor of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Stanford.

While researchers aren’t exactly sure how premature birth is linked to diabetes, poor nutrition, either in the womb or after birth, can trigger changes in a baby’s hormones or metabolism that can lead to abnormal processing of blood sugar, which in turn can increase the risk of diabetes.

What’s the good news? That most diabetes risk factors are modifiable by exercising, eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking.

Click here to learn how you can lower your risk of diabetes with dietary changes.