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From Chicago, Illinois:

Has a link been established between juvenile diabetes and impaired cognitive functioning? I am a school psychologist who recently evaluated a 13-year-old child who had been diagnosed as severely learning disabled six years ago. The child reportedly demonstrated a slow average rate of cognitive growth at the time of his last evaluation. He has since been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Current data reveals cognitive and adaptive delays, and academics are presently at first-grade levels. The child appeared somewhat lethargic throughout the evaluation, but his performance was consistent with that typically seen by the teacher. It is the school nurse's opinion that, since the child was having learning difficulties prior to the onset of illness, his medical status is not impacting.


This is probably one of the most hotly disputed areas in childhood diabetes research. In particular the jury is out on whether mild hypoglycaemia has any long term sequelae on cognitive functioning. There is a massive literature on the subject. You could start with a recent review by Gold and Frier in Diabetic Medicine, 10(6)1993, pp 503-8.


Additional comment from Dr. Lebinger:

Recently there has been some data to suggest that autoimmune problems may play a role in some forms of developmental delay. If this turns out to be true, children with autoimmune problems such as diabetes or thyroid problems may have an increased chance of having developmental delay not directly related to their thyroid function or problems with diabetes control. As an aside, I would make sure to check the thyroid function in this child to make sure hpothyroidism is not contributing to the problem.


Original posting 17 Apr 97


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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