Diabetes Peril for Developing Children

Article excerpt

Diabetes peril for developing children

Traditionally, insulin-dependent diabetes has not been associated with impaired intellectual functioning in childhood. But very preliminary results of a three-year Canadian study hint that children who get Type I diabetes may have deficits in spatial or verbal skills.

Joanne F. Rovet and her colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, devised a three-year prospective study of 70 diabetic children enrolled within two months of diagnosis and 40 of their nondiabetic siblings. At the start of the study and then every year thereafter, they gave the children a battery of intelligence tests that measure spatial and verbal ability.

So far, 45 diabetics and 27 controls have completed the study. Analysis of the early data links the type of cognitive impairment observed to the child's age at the time of diagnosis. For children who get diabetes before their fifth birthday, the disease may affect parts of the brain responsible for spatial ability. Rovet and her colleagues found that compared with controls, these children performed poorly on tests measuring spatial skills. …