Recovery of Cognitive Function and Mood after Severe Hypoglycemia

According to the March issue of Diabetes Care, scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that it takes as long as 1.5 days for cognitive function to return to normal after severe hypoglycemia in insulin-dependent people who were prone to such episodes. If such episodes occur frequently, they may permanently and adversely influence cognitive function and mood.

When compared to insulin-dependent people who were not hypoglycemic, the hypoglycemic subjects had higher levels of depression and anxiety. They also performed poorly on a number of cognitive tests.

According to the August 1999 issue of PubMed Query/Arch Dis Child, 29 insulin-dependent kids and 15 nondiabetic kids (median age of 9.5) were examined regarding the frequency of nighttime hypoglycemia and its impact on cognitive function and mood. Asymptomatic nighttime hypoglycemia is a risk for young children on conventional insulin therapy. The researchers found that these nighttime episodes had no short-term effect on cognitive function but did influence mood change.

The August 1999 issue of Diabetes Care reported that researchers who studied 13 diabetic kids on intensive insulin therapy for two years found that frequent and severe hypoglycemia may have adversely affected memory function in such children. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that intensive insulin therapy could keep patients healthier longer and also reduce their risks of developing complications. Unfortunately, adults and children alike who undertake intensive therapy often run the risks of hypoglycemia. The researchers, however, were careful not to suggest that intensive therapy should be ruled out for children because of potential damage to their cognitive function.

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