Objective: While cerebral edema and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in type 1 diabetes (T1DM) have well-described acute effects on cognition, little is known about the impact of clinical presentation on longer term cognitive outcomes. We hypothesized that clinical factors (degree of hyperglycemia exposure and DKA) at the time of diagnosis would relate to cognition within 3.5 months later in children with T1DM. Methods: Cognitive testing was performed on children 7–17 years old with T1DM (n = 66) within 3.5 months of diagnosis and siblings without T1DM (n = 33). Overall intelligence, processing speed, and memory (including a sensitive long-delay spatial memory test; spatial delayed response or SDR) were assessed. Medical records were reviewed for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), DKA status, and other clinical factors at diagnosis. Results: Within the group with T1DM, 17 children presented in DKA and 49 did not. After adjusting for age, gender, and socioeconomic status, the subgroup with T1DM and DKA at diagnosis performed worse on the long-delay SDR task compared to sibling controls (p = 0.006). In addition, within the group with T1DM, higher HbA1c at diagnosis was associated with worse performance on the long-delay SDR task (p = 0.027). Performance on the other cognitive tasks was not different across groups or subgroups. Conclusions: DKA and degree of hyperglycemia exposure at diagnosis have implications for long-delay spatial memory function within 3.5 months of diagnosis. These findings suggest that early detection of T1DM, which decreases risk for prolonged exposure to hyperglycemia and DKA, may avoid negative effects on memory function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-499
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Diabetes
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • DKA
  • cognition
  • diabetes mellitus


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