Cognitive Function in Type 1 Diabetic Adults With Early Exposure to Severe Hypoglycemia

A 16-year follow-up study

  1. Marit R. Bjørgaas, MD, PHD1,8
  1. 1Department of Endocrinology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway;
  2. 2Department of Public Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
  3. 3Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
  4. 4Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway;
  5. 5Department of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
  6. 6Old Age Research Center, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Hamar, Norway;
  7. 7Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway;
  8. 8Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
  1. Corresponding author: Bjørn O. Åsvold, bjorn.o.asvold{at}ntnu.no.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE We assessed adulthood cognition in relation to early exposure to severe hypoglycemia (SH).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Sixteen years subsequent to a study of cognitive function in 28 diabetic children and 28 matched control subjects, we reexamined the same subjects with a 96% participation rate. Diabetic subjects were classified as with (n = 9) or without (n = 18) early (≤10 years of age) SH, which was defined as convulsions or loss of consciousness.

RESULTS Overall, cognitive scores were 0.9 SDs lower in subjects with early SH compared with subjects without early SH (P = 0.003). The two diabetic groups particularly differed with respect to problem solving, verbal function, and psychomotor efficiency. Earlier age at first incident of SH was associated with poorer cognition (P for trend = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS The findings suggest that early exposure to SH may have lasting and clinically relevant effects on cognition.

Footnotes

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  • Received March 31, 2010.
  • Accepted June 22, 2010.

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