Amy Sanghavi Shah, MD.

Amy Sanghavi Shah, MD

Researchers here have shown that teens with type 2 diabetes have significant differences in brain gray matter volume. These differences appear to affect brain regions involved in seeing, hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making, and self-control. 

The study used high-resolution MRI scans to compare 40 teens of similar ages, race and gender; 20 with diabetes and 20 without. The team presented its findings at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions in June 2016.

“Previous studies suggested that youth with type 2 diabetes have differences in brain structure and poorer cognitive function scores compared to their peers,” says endocrinologist Amy Sanghavi Shah, MD, senior author of the study. “Total and regional brain volume and cognitive scores had not been assessed comprehensively until now.”

The findings underscore the importance of preventing type 2 diabetes during a crucial period of brain development. 

“We don’t know if the differences we found are the direct result of diabetes, but other studies in adults with longer duration of disease also show brain differences and cognitive decline,” says Jacob Redel, MD, fellow in the Division of Endocrinology and study lead author.