Peripheral sensory nerve dysfunction in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus

Diabet Med. 1998 Mar;15(3):228-33. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9136(199803)15:3<228::AID-DIA551>3.0.CO;2-8.


The aim of the present study was to investigate peripheral sensory nerve function in diabetic children and adolescents without neurological symptoms. Ninety-two children and adolescents with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus (mean +/- SD age: 14.2 +/- 2.1 years, diabetes duration: 5.8 +/- 3.0 years) and 80 healthy control subjects (age: 13.8 +/- 2.2 years) matched for age, sex, body mass index, and height standard deviation score were involved in the study. Using a sine-wave transcutaneous stimulator, current perception threshold (CPT) testing at 2000, 250 and 5 Hz was performed on the left median and peroneal nerves. Diabetic children had increased CPT at 2000 Hz on both nerves as compared to the control group (median (interquartile range), median nerve: 2.43 (2.20-3.43) vs 1.80 (1.51-2.60) mA, p = 0.02; peroneal nerve: 3.51 (2.81-4.82) vs 2.70 (2.04-3.70) mA, p = 0.01). Twenty-one (23%) of patients had CPT values higher than that of any healthy individual. Of these, elevated CPT was observed in 9 (9.8%) patients on the median nerve, in 8 (8.7%) patients on the peroneal nerve, and in 4 (4.3%) patients on both median and peroneal nerves. Using multiple logistic regression analysis, worse long-term metabolic control and advanced puberty were independently predictive of peripheral sensory nerve dysfunction as the dependent variable (adjusted OR (95% CI): 3.4 (1.2-6.2), p = 0.01, and 2.8 (1.1-5.6), p = 0.03, respectively). In conclusion, evidence of peripheral sensory nerve dysfunction is not rare in children and adolescents with diabetes and can be demonstrated by CPT testing in asymptomatic patients. Poor metabolic control is a risk factor for such subclinical neuropathy, and pubertal development may be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*
  • Reference Values