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Early Severe Hypoglycemia Tied to Poorer Cognition

Last Updated: September 03, 2010.

Exposure to severe hypoglycemia at an early age may negatively impact long-term cognitive function in individuals with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in the September issue of Diabetes Care.

FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to severe hypoglycemia (SH) at an early age may negatively impact long-term cognitive function in individuals with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in the September issue of Diabetes Care.

Sixteen years after studying cognitive function in 28 children with diabetes and 28 matched control subjects, Bjørn O. Åsvold, M.D., of Trondheim University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues evaluated the same subjects (96 percent participation rate). Participants with diabetes were classified as having early SH or not having early SH. The age of 10 years or younger was considered early.

Compared to individuals without early SH, the investigators found that cognitive scores were 0.9 standard deviations lower in individuals with early SH. The researchers noted between-group differences in problem solving, verbal function, and psychomotor efficiency in particular. They also found that poorer cognition was linked to earlier age at first incident of SH.

"In this 16-year follow-up study, diabetes with early SH was associated with approximately one standard deviation poorer cognitive function in adulthood, which is considered a large effect size," the authors write. "The deficit was found across several cognitive domains and was most pronounced in subjects exposed to SH before 6 years of age."

The study was funded in part by Unimed Innovation AS, Sanofi-Aventis Norge A/S, and Novo Nordisk A/S.

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