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[IP] Insulin and memory loss
Hmmm. I'd been wondering what happened to my own once fabulous memory.
Check out this article. What do you think? I wonder what they mean by "high
I've removed the HTML for digest users. If you would like to go to the
original site it is: http://my.webmd.com/content/article/1728.50588
Too Much Insulin May Cause Memory Problems
Important News for Parents of Children With Type 1 Diabetes Who Are Taking
High Doses of Insulin
By Ruth Papazian, MS
WebMD Medical News
Nov. 16, 1999 (New York) Children with type 1 diabetes who must take large
doses of insulin may develop serious memory problems as a result of
treatment, researchers have found. The results of a study published in a
recent issue of Diabetes Care suggest that the kind of insulin therapy now
recommended by the American Diabetes Association may cause memory deficits
as serious as those associated with the effects of severe hypoglycemia -- a
condition caused by dangerously low blood sugar levels. Other parts of the
brain may also be affected by regular large doses of insulin, according to
In diabetes, blood glucose (sugar) levels are abnormally high because the
body doesn't produce enough insulin. People with diabetes must take insulin
as medication in order to control their blood glucose levels.
Researcher Tamara Hershey, PhD, tells WebMD that until recently, scientists
haven't looked at the possible relationship between severe hypoglycemia and
learning or memory problems in children with type 1 diabetes. The study --
conducted by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Louis -- evaluated how well children with type 1 diabetes who required large
doses of insulin performed certain memory functions, such as recalling
important stories and remembering the shapes of objects they had seen and
the way the objects were placed. The children not only showed memory
problems but also had difficulty performing tasks requiring small, precise
Hershey cautions, however, that more studies are needed to determine whether
the memory problems are serious enough to call for changing the insulin
treatment -- presuming that that can be done safely. Intensive [large-dose]
insulin therapy "is clearly beneficial for type 1 diabetic teenagers and
adults, and without a clear demonstration of the relationship between severe
hypoglycemia and memory deficits in children, I would hesitate recommending
withholding or modifying [therapy] based only on these results," she says.
Christopher M. Ryan, PhD, also urges caution in modifying insulin dosage
based solely on the study's results. In a separate article published in the
same journal, Ryan -- associate professor of psychiatry at the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania -- writes that while the results
"are certainly chilling" given the importance of memory ability in
school-age children, the study does not provide enough evidence to support
physicians' reducing children's insulin intake.
Until more studies are conducted, Ryan writes, physicians must continue to
closely watch children with diabetes to make sure they receive enough
insulin to prevent hypoglycemia. That, combined "with frequent blood glucose
monitoring ... may be the best way to reduce the very small risk that
diabetes treatment could affect memory and other cognitive [brain] processes
in the child," Ryan writes.
The research was supported in part by a grant from the Juvenile Diabetes
© 1999 WebMD. All rights reserved.
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