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Diabetes Care. 2011 Oct;34(10):2192-7. doi: 10.2337/dc11-0697. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Neurocognitive outcomes in young adults with early-onset type 1 diabetes: a prospective follow-up study.

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Department of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.



The aim of this study was to reexamine the neurocognitive function of a cohort of young adults with early-onset type 1 diabetes and compare their cognitive function to a matched control group. We also examined whether cognitive function was related to prospectively obtained severe hypoglycemia history, long-term glycemic control, or severe diabetic ketoacidosis.


Testing included Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and Adults, Wechsler Memory Scale, Cattell Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CCFIT), Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), youth and adult self-report, and Beck Depression Inventory. We tested 34 control subjects (mean ± SE, age 19.5 ± 0.5 years) and 33 type 1 diabetic subjects (age 19.3 ± 0.5 years, age at type 1 diabetes onset 3.3 ± 0.3 years, A1C from diagnosis 8.7 ± 0.1%, and diabetes duration 16.0 ± 0.5 years).


There was no difference in full-scale IQ scores in type 1 diabetic and control subjects (100.7 ± 2.0 vs. 102.5 ± 1.4). There was no difference between groups in memory subtests or in reporting of emotional and behavioral difficulties. The type 1 diabetes group scored lower on the CCFIT for fluid intelligence compared with control subjects (P = 0.028) and also scored lower on WCST with more perseverative errors (P = 0.002) and fewer categories completed (P = 0.022).


These data suggest no difference in general intellectual ability, memory, and emotional difficulties in our cohort of young adults with early-onset type 1 diabetes compared with control subjects and no deterioration over time. There were, however, findings to suggest subtle changes leading to poorer performance on complex tasks of executive function.

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