Diabetic Children May Suffer from Compromised Memory and IQ

At the University of California, Davis Health, a first large scale study uncovers the profound damage to cognitive behaviours, caused by diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in children who had newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, as well as those children who have had previously diagnosed type 1 diabetes. These research findings were published in the Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association. Researchers confirm the speculations of lower reported IQ and worsening memory in children manifested with the pre-existing and current type 1 diabetic, after the diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious but most common complication of type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes ketoacidosis results when body of a diabetic person start to break down the fats at a much faster rate than normal, subsequent to poor liver processing of fats into a fuel called ketones that predisposes to poisoning of blood (acidic). Mostly, DKA manifests when diabetes is poorly managed or undiagnosed.  Initial signs of DKA include nausea, excessive thirst, frequent urination, abdominal pain, weakness and confusion.

According to the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), between 2009 and 2014, hospital admissions for DKA have increased after a slight decrease between 2000 and 2009 in US, among all age groups, with highest reported among persons aged <45 years. Concurrently, mortality rates of in patients among people with DKA has consistently decreased from 2000 to 2014.

This study is the first till date, to assess the difference between the cognitive behavioural damage after DKA prevalence in children in pre-existing diabetes type 1 and newly diagnosed diabetes type 1. The study was a randomised clinical trial at the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) sites led by two of the study’s co-authors, Nathan Kuppermann and Nicole Glaser.

The researchers recruited up to 758 children, average age 6 to 18 years, who presented with DKA. A comparison group (control group) of 376 children with type 1 diabetes, but no DKA exposure, was also enrolled.

Source: The BMJ

It was found that DKA was moderate/severe in up to 430 children and mild in up to 328 children and an estimated 392 children with DKA had newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, and the remaining children from 430 had previously diagnosed Type 1 diabetes. After 2 to 6 months of DKA episode, cognitive behaviours including memory and IQ were assessed.

Results revealed that among children who were newly diagnosed and experienced moderate/severe DKA exhibited lower long-term memory, relative to children with diabetes but no DKA exposure. Further, in children who had previous diagnosis, lower performance compared to children with new diagnosis was observed. It implicates that memory and IQ may get worse with time suggesting cognitive deficit over time.

Glaser, professor of pediatrics at UC Davis Health and senior author of the study, said in press release, “There is an opportunity to prevent DKA with proper management of the glucose level in the blood.”

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