Aug. 3, 2010 -- Obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes may experience changes in their brains that affect how well they are learning in school, according to a new study published online in Diabetologia.
"This is the first report to show that the brain is a site of complications among kids with type 2 diabetes," says Antonio Convit, MD, professor of psychiatry and medicine at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Obesity in adolescents can lead to type 2 diabetes, which increases risk of mortality, but now we know that these children's brains are not working as effectively as they should be either and their ability to do well in school is also impaired."
What is not known, however, is whether or not this damage is reversible, he says.
Eighteen obese children with type 2 diabetes and their counterparts who were obese, but had no evidence of diabetes or pre-diabetes, underwent extensive testing. The children with diabetes performed worse on memory and spelling tasks as well as on tests of their overall intellectual functioning.
Exactly how type 2 diabetes affects children's ability to think and learn is not fully understood, but "we know the brain uses sugar as a source of metabolism, and insulin resistance interferes with the body's ability to get more juice or sugar into the brain," Convit says. Similar findings have been seen in adults with diabetes, but the cognitive changes were thought to be the result of vascular disease in their brains.
The next step is to try to determine if this damage can be reversed by treating the insulin resistance.
"Fitness is the best way to improve insulin resistance," he says. "These kids need to exercise and with exercise, weight loss will come."
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.