Objective: Cross-sectional studies find altered cognition in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). However, few longitudinal studies have examined the trajectories of their cognitive performance over time. The aims of this study were to explore longitudinal change in cognitive function in youth with T1DM as compared with nondiabetic sibling controls, and how glycemic control and age of onset influence cognitive performance over time. Methods: We assessed crystallized intelligence, visual-spatial ability, delayed memory, and processing speed at 3 time points using the same cognitive tasks in youth with T1DM and sibling controls. Hierarchical linear modeling examined relationships between diabetes, hyperglycemia (HbA1c values), age of onset, and cognition over 5.5 y. Results: Youth with diabetes performed worse than controls on visual-spatial ability and memory tasks over time, and did not improve as much in processing speed. Greater hyperglycemia was associated with lower crystallized intelligence and slower processing speed but better memory across all time points. There was a stronger negative relationship between hyperglycemia and visual-spatial ability for youth with earlier compared with later onset diabetes. Importantly, within-person decreases in hyperglycemia between time points were associated with improved visual-spatial ability and faster processing speed. Conclusions: On average, differences in cognitive function between youth with T1DM and nondiabetic relatives are maintained or increase during childhood and adolescence. Hyperglycemia and age of onset can have negative effects on the developmental trajectories of cognitive processes in youth with T1DM. However, treatments that lower hyperglycemia may lead to improved cognitive function in youth with T1DM.
- diabetes mellitus
- type 1