Academic abilities and glycaemic control in children and young people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus

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Aims: To determine if children and young people aged < 23 years with Type 1 diabetes differ in academic ability from age‐matched control subjects without Type 1 diabetes and whether academic scores are related to glycaemic control.

Methods: Using a cross‐sectional study design, we administered cognitive and academic tests (Woodcock‐Johnson III Spatial Relations, General Information, Letter‐Word Recognition, Calculation and Spelling tests) to young people with Type 1 diabetes (n=61) and control subjects (n=26) aged 9-22 years. The groups did not differ in age or gender. Participants with Type 1 diabetes had a disease duration of 5-17.7 years. History of glycaemic control (HbA1c, diabetic ketoacidosis and severe hypoglycaemic episodes) was obtained via medical records and interviews.

Results: The participants with Type 1 diabetes had a lower mean estimated verbal intelligence (IQ) level compared with those in the control group (P=0.04). Greater exposure to hyperglycaemia over time was associated with lower spelling abilities within the group with Type 1 diabetes (P=0.048), even after controlling for age, gender, socio‐economic status, blood glucose level at time of testing and verbal IQ (P=0.01). History of severe hypoglycaemia or ketoacidosis was not associated with differences in academic abilities.

Conclusions: In children and young people, Type 1 diabetes was associated with a lower verbal IQ. Moreover, increased exposure to hyperglycaemia was associated with lower spelling performance. These results imply that hyperglycaemia can affect cognitive function and/or learning processes that may affect academic achievement.

Recommended Citation

Semenkovich, K., P. P. Patel, A. B. Pollock, K. A. Beach, S. Nelson, J. J. Masterson, Tamara Hershey, and A. M. Arbeláez. "Academic abilities and glycaemic control in children and young people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus." Diabetic Medicine 33, no. 5 (2016): 668-673.

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Communication Sciences and Disorders