Early-onset type 1 diabetes may affect the developing brain during a critical window of rapid brain maturation. Structural MRI was performed on 141 children with diabetes (4-10 years of age at study entry) and 69 age-matched control subjects at two time points spaced 18 months apart. For the children with diabetes, the mean (±SD) HbA1c level was 7.9 ± 0.9% (63 ± 9.8 mmol/mol) at both time points. Relative to control subjects, children with diabetes had significantly less growth of cortical gray matter volume and cortical surface area and significantly less growth of white matter volume throughout the cortex and cerebellum. For the population with diabetes, the change in the blood glucose level at the time of scan across longitudinal time points was negatively correlated with the change in gray and white matter volumes, suggesting that fluctuating glucose levels in children with diabetes may be associated with corresponding fluctuations in brain volume. In addition, measures of hyperglycemia and glycemic variation were significantly negatively correlated with the development of surface curvature. These results demonstrate that early-onset type 1 diabetes has widespread effects on the growth of gray and white matter in children whose blood glucose levels are well within the current treatment guidelines for the management of diabetes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (DIRECNET U01-HD-41890, HD-41906, HD-41908, HD-41915, HD-41918, HD-56526, and R01-HD-078463-01A1).