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Study Links Later Type 1 Diabetes Diagnoses To Weaker Brain Connectivity

A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh found that people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in later childhood have weaker brain connectivity in midlife compared to those who were diagnosed at early ages.

“This effect got stronger as the participants got older,” said John Ryan, assistant professor of psychiatry at UPMC and lead author of the study published this month in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Researchers used fMRI technology to analyze the brains of 66 adults ages 32 to 58 over time.

All of the study participants were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes before age 18 and are currently enrolled in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, an ongoing project looking at long-term complications of Type 1 diabetes among patients at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC between 1950 and 1980.

“Individuals with Type 1 diabetes are living longer thanks to advances in treatment," Ryan said. "But it's not very well understood how Type 1 diabetes interacts with the aging process as these individuals are now progressing into older age.”

Ryan said further research needs to be done. Future studies might look for possible associations between connectivity of the brain regions and cognitive ability, he said.

“What we really need to do is some longitudinal studies that follow these individuals over time to understand what the implications of these differences in brain connectivity are,” he said.