OBJECTIVE To determine if frequent exposures to hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia during early childhood lead to neurocognitive deficits and changes in brain anatomy.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS In this feasibility, cross-sectional study, young children, aged 3 to 10 years, with type 1 diabetes and age- and sex-matched healthy control (HC) subjects completed neuropsychologic (NP) testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain.
RESULTS NP testing and MRI scanning was successfully completed in 98% of the type 1 diabetic and 93% of the HC children. A significant negative relationship between HbA1c and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) verbal comprehension was observed. WISC index scores were significantly reduced in type 1 diabetic subjects who had experienced seizures. White matter volume did not show the expected increase with age in children with type 1 diabetes compared with HC children (diagnosis by age interaction, P = 0.005). A similar trend was detected for hippocampal volume. Children with type 1 diabetes who had experienced seizures showed significantly reduced gray matter and white matter volumes relative to children with type 1 diabetes who had not experienced seizures.
CONCLUSIONS It is feasible to perform MRI and NP testing in young children with type 1 diabetes. Further, early signs of neuroanatomic variation may be present in this population. Larger cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of neurocognitive function and neuroanatomy are needed to define the effect of type 1 diabetes on the developing brain.
- Received November 17, 2010.
- Accepted March 25, 2011.
- © 2011 by the American Diabetes Association.
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