Cognitive function in 6- to 12-year-old offspring of women with Type 1 diabetes


Dr Rosemary C. Temple, Elsie Bertram Diabetes Centre, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust, Colney Lane, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7UY, UK. E-mail:


Diabet. Med. 28, 845–848 (2011)


Aims  Maternal diabetes is a recognized risk factor for congenital malformation, perinatal morbidity and obesity in later childhood. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of maternal diabetes on cognitive function in offspring.

Methods  Participants were 6- to 12-year-old offspring of women with Type 1 diabetes. All women received their antenatal care and delivered at one university hospital. HbA1c was monitored monthly throughout pregnancy and cognitive function was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, version 4.

Results  We present results in 40 offspring. There was no difference in overall full-scale IQ compared with UK normative data. However, working memory was poorer than other parts of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children version 4 test and significantly lower compared with UK normative data [8.4 (2.2) vs. 10.1 (3.2), P < 0.01]. We found no correlation between measurement of digit span or HbA1c at any stage during pregnancy (r = –0.225 to 0.002), gestational age at delivery (r = –0.178) or infant birthweight ratio (r = –0.176). There was no relationship between working memory score and maternal hypoglycaemia episodes or maternal duration of diabetes. Comparing infants born before (n = 9) or after 37 weeks’ gestation, digit span was non-significantly lower [7.9 (1.8) vs. 8.6 (2.4)].

Discussion  These results suggest offspring of women with Type 1 diabetes have normal overall cognitive function but poorer working memory. We have been unable to identify specific risk factors. Further larger studies are required to increase the understanding of this memory defect and identify any modifiable risk factors.