Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes later in childhood may be associated with lower brain connectivity, according to a new study.
The University of Pittsburgh reported prior to their study that no research had examined whether the age of type 1 development affected functional connectivity in later life.
They recruited 66 adults aged between 32 and 58 with type 1 diabetes, 32 were men. All of the participants were diagnosed with type 1 during childhood and had enrolled in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications cohort.
Mean connectivity was calculated for eight functional brain networks. This was achieved through monitoring resting state blood oxygen-level dependent activity, while associations between age of onset and network connectivity were analysed.
John Rya, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh, wrote: “Other studies have shown an association between earlier onset type 1 diabetes and cognitive difficulties, so we expected to find that people with earlier age of onset would have weaker connections between brain regions.
“But instead, we found that those who were diagnosed later in childhood had the weaker brain connections as they aged.”
Lower connectivity was associated with older age, and the researchers added that as people with type 1 diabetes are living for longer, this may represent upcoming cognitive issues in patients.
“The mechanisms underlying these associations are not yet clear. However, the relationships between age of diagnosis and connectivity were stronger in older participants, supporting a model of diabetes as accelerated aging,” Ryan added.
The Pittsburgh team concluded that further studies are necessary to understand why these associations exist.
The results of this study were published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

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