Effects of Diabetic Ketoacidosis on Visual and Verbal Neurocognitive Function in Young Patients Presenting with New-Onset Type 1 Diabetes

J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol. 2015 Sep;7(3):203-10. doi: 10.4274/jcrpe.2158.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) on neurocognitive functions in children and adolescents presenting with new-onset type 1 diabetes.

Methods: Newly diagnosed patients were divided into two groups: those with DKA and those without DKA (non-DKA). Following metabolic stabilization, the patients took a mini-mental status exam prior to undergoing a baseline battery of cognitive tests that evaluated visual and verbal cognitive tasks. Follow-up testing was performed 8-12 weeks after diagnosis. Patients completed an IQ test at follow-up.

Results: There was no statistical difference between the DKA and non-DKA groups neither in alertness at baseline testing nor in an IQ test at follow-up. The DKA group had significantly lower baseline scores than the non-DKA group for the visual cognitive tasks of design recognition, design memory and the composite visual memory index (VMI). At follow-up, Design Recognition remained statistically lower in the DKA group, but the design memory and the VMI tasks returned to statistical parity between the two groups. No significant differences were found in verbal cognitive tasks at baseline or follow-up between the two groups. Direct correlations were present for the admission CO2 and the visual cognitive tasks of VMI, design memory and design recognition. Direct correlations were also present for admission pH and VMI, design memory and picture memory.

Conclusion: Pediatric patients presenting with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes and severe but uncomplicated DKA showed a definite trend for lower cognitive functioning when compared to the age-matched patients without DKA.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / blood
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / complications
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose