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INTRODUCTION: Young children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) may be at particularly high risk of cognitive decline following diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). However, studies of cognitive functioning in T1D typically examine school-age children. The goal of this study was to examine whether a single experience of DKA is associated with lower cognitive functioning in young children. We found that recently diagnosed 3- to 5-year-olds who experienced one DKA episode, regardless of its severity, exhibited lower IQ scores than those with no DKA exposure.
METHODS: We prospectively enrolled 46 3- to 5-year-old children, who presented with DKA at the onset of T1D, in a randomized multi-site clinical trial evaluating intravenous fluid protocols for DKA treatment. DKA was moderate/severe in 22 children and mild in 24 children. Neurocognitive function was assessed once 2-6 months after the DKA episode. A comparison group of 27 children with T1D, but no DKA exposure, was also assessed. Patient groups were matched for age and T1D duration at the time of neurocognitive testing.
RESULTS: Children who experienced DKA, regardless of its severity, exhibited significantly lower IQ scores than children who did not experience DKA, F(2, 70) = 6.26, p = .003, partial η = .15. This effect persisted after accounting for socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
CONCLUSIONS: A single DKA episode is associated with lower IQ scores soon after exposure to DKA in young children.