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Impact of Type 1 Diabetes on Academic Performance

Jul 19, 2013

Students with type 1 diabetes were matched with nondiabetic students, and their academic grades in courses such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, English, and humanities compared….

Students with type 1 diabetes were recruited and evaluated for their age, ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic status. They were matched with nondiabetic students with similar criteria. Students were taken from eight different schools from September 2011 to June 2012.


These students’ academic grades were evaluated using the mean of scores taken from written examinations in various courses such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, English, and humanities. These grades were then compared between the diabetic and nondiabetic student groups.

Diabetes is associated with diminished neuronal functioning that ultimately leads to cognitive dysfunction in areas including intelligence, learning, memory, information processing, attention, executive function, visual motor integration and academic achievement. This study evaluated overall grades based on written examinations in several academic subjects, representing the combination of multiple cognitive domains, and found that students with type 1 diabetes had significantly lower overall academic grades than their nondiabetic classmates.

Diabetes has been shown to impair intelligence, memory, attention and understanding in children and adolescents, as well as verbal (and therefore overall) intelligence quotient. Type 1 diabetes is associated with cognitive deficits in adolescents, independent of the quality of metabolic control and the duration of disease. In addition, basic academic knowledge and performance may be adversely affected in children with diabetes. Neurocognitive performance (conceptual reasoning, memory and learning) has been shown to deteriorate in patients with diabetes compared with healthy controls. This reduction in cognitive function is associated with disease duration and hyperglycemia, with early onset increasing the risk of learning problems. These data are in accordance with the present finding, that students with diabetes showed significantly lower academic grades than nondiabetic controls.

The results showed that students who were diagnosed with diabetes received significantly lower mean examination scores compared with the matched nondiabetic controls.

In conclusion, nondiabetic students did significantly better in academic performance compared to their classmates who had diabetes. Researchers conclude this may be due to the association between diabetes and possible impaired cognitive functioning.

Meo Sultan Ayoub, Alkahlan Mohammad Abdulaziz et al. 7 Feb 2013. The Journal of International Medical Research