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Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis in Kids May Lead To Brain Changes

Update Date: May 25, 2014 05:44 AM EDT
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A serious complication of type 1 diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) might cause temporary changes to the brain matter of children newly diagnosed with the disease, according to a new research. 

The research added that the changes may also cause a decrease in memory and attention that persists for at least half a year following the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. 

"Children and adolescents diagnosed with type 1 diabetes with diabetic ketoacidosis have evidence of brain gray matter shrinkage and white matter swelling," said the study's lead author, Dr. Fergus Cameron, head of diabetes services at Royal Children's Hospital in Victoria, Australia, in the press release. "While these changes resolve within the first week, there are associated residual cognitive changes-memory and attention-that are present six months after diagnosis."

"Even if they're subtle, these variations have the potential to affect higher-level learning tasks," he added.

According to reports, each year nearly 30,000 U.S. adults and children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and the disease has increased dramatically in recent years. 

The study included 36 children and teens with diabetes ketoacidosis and 59 without it. Subjects were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and between 6 and 18 years old. 

After planned MRIs at regular intervals, researchers found decreased gray matter volume in the children with diabetic ketoacidosis as well as swelling in the white matter. 

But children who'd experienced these brain changes had more delayed memory recall and poorer sustained and divided attention scores for at least six months after the diabetic ketoacidosis, the study found.

"Changes in memory and attention are subtle, and may or may not be noticed by a parent or teacher on a daily basis," added Cameron. "However, any decrement in attention or memory in children is a concern as children are acquiring new knowledge and learning new skills all the time."

The research has been detailed in the journal Diabetes Care.

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