Age of Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis Affects Brain Health Later in Life

Individuals who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in their later childhood are more likely to have weaker brain connectivity in middle age compared with people diagnosed at a younger age, according to a new study.

Other studies have shown a link between early-onset type 1 diabetes and cognitive problems, so the researchers expected to find that people who had been diagnosed early would have weaker connections in their brain regions.

"But instead, we found that those who were diagnosed later in childhood had the weaker brain connections as they aged," said Dr. John Ryan, study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.

Diabetes and the brain

The study participants included 66 middle-aged adults who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as children. The group is one of only a few in the country where the participants have been followed throughout their lifespans.

People with diabetes are living longer, Dr. Ryan stressed, but understanding exactly how diabetes affects the aging process - and things like memory and brain connectivity - is still unfolding.

"The mechanisms underlying these associations are not yet clear," he said. "However, the relationships between age of diagnosis and connectivity was stronger in older participants, supporting a model of diabetes as accelerated aging."

Source: University of Pittsburgh

Image courtesy of dream designs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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