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February 12, 2002

Complications, School and Daycare

Question from Vincennes, Indiana, USA:

My seven year old has had type 1 diabetes since the age of five, and I am concerned with her performance in school over the past few months. There seems to be a pattern of target range blood sugar days correlating with good work and out of target numbers with very poor work. The teacher has not expressed any interest in understanding diabetes, and I feel that her ignorance just might hinder our daughter's performance in school. For example, on a day that she "crashes", is her mind working to its fullest extent possible throughout the entire day? I have spoken with her endocrinologist regarding these issues, and I get a "lets keep an eye on it." Is there any proven study that says that children with type 1 have some learning differences, not disabilities?


There is ample evidence that the effect of hypoglycemia on ability to think and learn is impaired after the event for a variable period. This may be an hour or two, but in a few may last as long as 24 hours. This relates to mild hypoglycaemia. More profound episodes have a greater effect. Hyperglycemia may well affect concentration, but the hard evidence is lacking.


[Editor’s comment: See Effects of Diabetes on Learning in Children in PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 1 January 2002, pp. e9. This study was conducted in children ages eight to 18, i.e., not that much older than your daughter.