Home / Conditions / Type 1 Diabetes / Cognitive Impairment a Concern for Younger Type 1 Diabetes Patients

Cognitive Impairment a Concern for Younger Type 1 Diabetes Patients

Jul 25, 2014
Psychomotor speed may be affected…. 

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, both in Houston, Texas, have found that sometimes within days of diagnosis, impairment of cognitive function can be seen in type 1 children and adolescents.

The study included 147 children with type 1 diabetes between 5-18 years old. Children completed neurophysiological testing at the time of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and this data was compared to data from children in the same age range without the disease. Results showed there was a significanty lower score for the children with diabetes.


Deficits were evident in neurocognitive functioning within days of diabetes diagnosis that were associated with diabetes outcomes over 1 year postdiagnosis. Impairment was most apparent in psychomotor speed, consistent with research implicating damage to posterior white matter tracts and associated gray matter regions in type 1 diabetes. Psychomotor impairment may be an early marker for a broader neurobehavioral vulnerability that has implications for long-term diabetes management.

Practice Pearls:

  • Cognitive impairment is found to occur immediately within the first year of type 1 diabetes diagnosis
  • Early detection of type 1 diabetes may be found based on biomarker of psychomotor impairment in children.
  • Declines are found in psychomotor speed, visuomotor integration, and phonemic fluency compared to normal data from children free of diabetes.

Schwartz DD, Axelrad ME, Anderson BJ. Neurocognitive Functioning in Children and Adolescents at the Time of Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis: Association With Glycemic Control 1 Year After Diagnosis. Diabetes Care. 2014 June 26