The effect of recurrent severe hypoglycemia on cognitive performance in children with type 1 diabetes: a meta-analysis

J Child Neurol. 2011 Nov;26(11):1383-91. doi: 10.1177/0883073811406730. Epub 2011 May 13.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the existence and extent of cognitive impairment in type 1 diabetic children with episodes of recurrent severe hypoglycemia, using meta-analysis to synthesize data across studies. The meta-analysis sample included: 441 children with diabetes and recurrent severe hypoglycemia, 560 children with diabetes and without recurrent severe hypoglycemia. Overall, children with type 1 diabetes and recurrent severe hypoglycemia had slightly lower performance than diabetic children without severe hypoglycemia, only in some cognitive domains: intelligence, memory, learning, and verbal fluency/language. Greater impairment was found in memory and learning. No impairment was found for motor speed. Our results seem to confirm the hypothesis that recurrent severe hypoglycemia has a selective negative effect on the children's cognitive functions. However, these results must be considered with caution taking into account factors such as small sample sizes, the different definitions of severe hypoglycemia, and the variety of neuropsychological tests used.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / complications*
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests