Cognitive and Neuroanatomical Consequences of Type 1 Diabetes in Young Children

Type I diabetes is a lifelong disease, usually diagnosed in children, adolescents and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, cells in the pancreas do not produce enough insulin, resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood. Previous research suggests that children diagnosed with type I diabetes may have impaired learning, particularly in the areas of memory/attention, visual-perceptual function and fine motor speed/coordination. Previous studies also hint that brain structure and function may be altered in individuals with diabetes. However, brain development in childhood onset type I diabetes and the effects of glucose control on brain and behavior have not been thoroughly evaluated. Such information has the potential to have significant impact on clinical practice.

To bridge this gap, the Diabetes Research in Children Network (DirecNet) designed a multi-site study involving five institutions across the U.S. to investigate brain and behavioral consequences of type I diabetes in young children, 4 to 9 years of age. The Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research (CIBSR, Allan L. Reiss, M.D. Director) is serving as the Imaging Coordinating Center for this study.

Goals of this study are:

• To characterize neuroanatomical differences in very young children with type I diabetes when compared to a demographically similar group of healthy children without diabetes. These analyses include investigations of brain volumes and white matter structure using magnetic resonance images of the brain.

• To determine the neuroanatomical changes that occur over the course of 18 months in children with type 1 diabetes. These analyses include investigations of brain volumes and white matter structure.

• To correlate neuroanatomical changes with measures of hypo- and hyperglycemia (low and high blood sugar levels, respectively).

• To correlate neuroanatomical findings with measures of neuropsychological function at baseline and an 18 month follow-up.

This study is performed in collaboration with:

Tandy Aye, M.D., Stanford University

Bruce Buckingham M.D., Stanford University

Stuart Weinzimer M.D., Yale University

Nelly Mauras M.D., Nemours Children’s Center

Eva Tsalikian M.D., Children’s Hospital of Iowa

Tamara Hershey, Ph.D., Washington University

Neil White, M.D., Washington University

Roy Beck, M.D., Jaeb Center for Health Research

Katrina Ruedy, M.S.P.H., Jaeb Center for Health Research

Craig Kollman, Ph.D., Jaeb Center for Health Research


View the study website here.