A long-running study is looking for a connection between blood sugar levels early in life and mid-life brain health.  The study is called the Bogalusa Heart Study and began in the 70's with about 200 child volunteers.  Co-principal investigator Dr. Owen Carmichael says now they will test those same volunteers now that they are in their 50's.

“None of us like to think about the possibility that events happening to us in adolescence put us on kind of a railroad track towards brain diseases later on in life, but we need to test to see if that is true,” said Carmichael.

The research is the only study to collect assessments of the community members’ metabolic status from early childhood through midlife and is supported by a National Institutes of Health grant.  Carmichael says the researchers will use MRI and PET scans to take measurements in the brain, looking for the earliest signs in the brain of Alzheimer’s.

“They’re mentally, by and large, just fine.  Nonetheless, in the brain, you start to see changes on brain scans that are the earliest steps that lead towards Alzheimer’s disease,” said Carmichael.

A collection of scientists with LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Tulane University and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center are working on the research.  Carmichael says these results could lead to new blood sugar management guidelines for children.

“What I’m hoping this is going to do is tell us whether kids should be held to a higher standard in terms of their blood sugar, whether they should be kept at an especially tight, low level,” said Carmichael.