What Is the Main Idea?

This post looks at the impact of type 1 diabetes on the development of children’s brains. Type 1 diabetes is known to affect multiple organs, but how does it affect the brain’s structure and function? It references the open access review “The Impact of Hypo- and Hyperglycemia on Cognition and Brain Development in Young Children with Type 1 Diabetes” in the journal Hormone Research in Paediatrics, which delves into the details of this important area of impact. If your child has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your physician may be interested in this review, which summarizes everything known about the condition.

What Else Can You Learn?

Read this post to gain a better understanding of type 1 diabetes, the role of insulin, and the role of artificial insulin in treating type 1 diabetes. The post also references the improvements in diabetes management thanks to new technologies. Please also note that World Diabetes Day is on November 14.

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is usually a genetic condition, although there are some viruses and environmental factors that may contribute to it. If someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it means their pancreas is not producing any insulin or only producing very small amounts because their body’s immune system or external factors have destroyed the insulin-producing cells. This means their body cannot work with the glucose from their diet: Glucose doesn’t enter their cells and thus cannot be used to generate energy.

The normal cycle of insulin is straightforward. We eat food. Glucose enters our bloodstream. The increased glucose in the bloodstream causes a signal to be sent to the pancreas, which starts producing and secreting insulin. The insulin facilitates the entry of glucose to the cells. As the level of glucose in the bloodstream (which you may have heard of as the blood sugar level) decreases, insulin secretion stops.

With type 1 diabetes, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Complications can affect most of the major organs and become life-threatening or cause disabilities.

Does Type 1 Diabetes Only Affect Children?

The condition used to be referred to as juvenile diabetes because its onset is generally during childhood or early adolescence. However, it can also develop in adults. The symptoms of its onset include extreme hunger and unintended weight loss; increased thirst as well as frequent urination, which may include nighttime incontinence; mood changes; fatigue; and blurred vision. Healthcare practitioners urge anyone observing such symptoms in themselves or their child to consult their doctor.

How Is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?

There is no prevention or cure for type 1 diabetes. However, it’s possible for people with the condition to live long and healthy lives. Their health depends on their management of their blood sugar levels, which means being able to manage their food, insulin, and activity levels. This is especially difficult for children, meaning their parents or guardians, other family members, and teachers must support them continuously.

Artificial insulin is a crucial tool in treating type 1 diabetes. It is generally available as an injection although there are also pump-based solutions. The technologies for monitoring blood sugar, warning the patient, and administering the insulin are continuously improving. The best options should be investigated based on the patient and their lifestyle.

What Does the Paper Say about Brain Development?

The open access review “The Impact of Hypo- and Hyperglycemia on Cognition and Brain Development in Young Children with Type 1 Diabetes” focuses on how type 1 diabetes can affect children’s brain structure and function. This is obviously an area of considerable concern to parents or guardians whose children are diagnosed at a young age with the condition. It is a frightening time for everyone concerned with a lot of new information to process.

Two important terms are hypoglycemia (too little sugar in the blood) and hyperglycemia (too much sugar in the blood). The paper refers to the impact of each on the child’s developing brain. Hypoglycemia is well known to have a serious impact on children’s health and development, but an understanding about the impact of hyperglycemia has come more recently. This makes the paper an important one for healthcare practitioners as there may be new information that they are unaware of. Consider sending them the link to the review if you have a child with type 1 diabetes.

It is essential to understand that hypo- and hyperglycemia can both affect the brain structure, causing injury that directly impacts cognitive function (e.g., thinking, listening, learning, reasoning, and focusing); executive function (e.g., adapting, planning, self-monitoring, remembering, and managing time); and even mental health. The focus of the review is mainly the physical changes and cognitive function.

What Does the Future Hold?

As mentioned, new and improved technologies for blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery are enhancing the flexibility and impact of daily treatment. The aim is to give all type 1 diabetes patients, including children, as “normal” an experience and development as possible. It’s important for parents, teachers and other adults in a child’s life to be as educated as possible about what hypo- and hyperglycemia could mean for the child, and help them to adapt to the challenges and limit any damage caused by type 1 diabetes.