Clinically Relevant Cognitive Impairment in Middle-Aged Adults With Childhood-Onset Type 1 Diabetes

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OBJECTIVEThe aim of this study was to investigate the presence and correlates of clinically relevant cognitive impairment in middle-aged adults with childhood-onset type 1 diabetes (T1D).RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODSDuring 2010–2013, 97 adults diagnosed with T1D and aged <18 years (age and duration 49 ± 7 and 41 ± 6 years, respectively; 51% female) and 138 similarly aged adults without T1D (age 49 ± 7 years; 55% female) completed extensive neuropsychological testing. Biomedical data on participants with T1D were collected periodically since 1986–1988. Cognitive impairment status was based on the number of test scores ≥1.5 SD worse than demographically appropriate published norms: none, mild (only one test), or clinically relevant (two or more tests).RESULTSThe prevalence of clinically relevant cognitive impairment was five times higher among participants with than without T1D (28% vs. 5%; P < 0.0001), independent of education, age, or blood pressure. Effect sizes were large (Cohen d 0.6–0.9; P < 0.0001) for psychomotor speed and visuoconstruction tasks and were modest (d 0.3–0.6; P < 0.05) for measures of executive function. Among participants with T1D, prevalent cognitive impairment was related to 14-year average A1c >7.5% (58 mmol/mol) (odds ratio [OR] 3.0; P = 0.009), proliferative retinopathy (OR 2.8; P = 0.01), and distal symmetric polyneuropathy (OR 2.6; P = 0.03) measured 5 years earlier; higher BMI (OR 1.1; P = 0.03); and ankle-brachial index ≥1.3 (OR 4.2; P = 0.01) measured 20 years earlier, independent of education.CONCLUSIONSClinically relevant cognitive impairment is highly prevalent among these middle-aged adults with childhood-onset T1D. In this aging cohort, chronic hyperglycemia and prevalent microvascular disease were associated with cognitive impairment, relationships shown previously in younger populations with T1D. Two additional potentially modifiable risk factors for T1D-related cognitive impairment, vascular health and BMI, deserve further study.

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