Is there a Link Between Kids with Type 1 Diabetes and Their Academic Performance?

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By : dLife Editors

Is there an association between type 1 diabetes and standardized test scores in schoolchildren? That’s the question a group of researchers in Denmark recently ventured to ask.

Dr. Niels Skipper, from Aarhus University, and coauthors answered this question by conducting a  population-based retrospective cohort study from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2015.

The question is personal for Skipper. When his four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it was an obvious choice for the health economist to apply his academic skills to uncover more aspects of the disease.

His team decided to examine the test scores of Danish public schoolchildren with and without type 1 diabetes.

In the study, the researchers reviewed the results of nationally standardized tests in math and reading completed by more than 630,000 Danish schoolchildren in grades 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8.

Approximately 2,000 of these children had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

What were the findings?

The comparison showed that kids with type diabetes performed just as well as their classmates with or without adjusting for socioeconomic status.

“This is a positive – and perhaps also a somewhat surprising – result, The assumption so far has probably been that the high and low blood sugar levels in diabetes also affect children’s cognitive skills and learning,” says Skipper, a health economist at the Department of Economics and Business Economics at Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University.

“In addition, the results of previous studies in this field have varied,” he says. “However, these studies were often based on smaller, non-random samples of children, and characterized by substantial statistical uncertainty.”

The new study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Copenhagen, VIVE, Herlev Hospital, and Kansas State University, U.S.

More and more children are affected

For unknown reasons, the researchers find more and more children and adolescents are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

In Denmark, the number of 0-19 year-olds with type 1 diabetes has almost doubled between 2000 and 2017 to 3,200 children and adolescents. The disease is chronic and has no prevention or cure.

In 2018, Skipper received a grant of almost DKK 4 million from the Independent Research Fund Denmark towards a research project exploring how type 1 diabetes affects children and adolescents with different socioeconomic backgrounds as well as their families.

This study represents the first result of the research project.

The results have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


  1. Is type 1 diabetes associated with poorer performance in school by children? (2019, Feb. 5). EurekAlert! Retrieved from: