Update: COVID May Be Causing Diabetes in Children, Too

Update: COVID May Be Causing Diabetes in Children, Too
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It was only a few weeks ago that we summarized everything we could learn about one of the most astonishing subplots of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the fact that COVID-19 actually appears to cause diabetes:

Why Does COVID-19 Cause Diabetes?

In early January, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a new study adding distressing detail to this story. It’s not just adults. COVID-19 is apparently triggering new-onset diabetes in children, too.

The data came from a surprising source: insurance claim databases. In one database, children (<18 years) were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes 30 days or more after being diagnosed with Covid. In the other, children were an astonishing 166% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Don’t panic quite yet – the numbers are still quite small, and the risk to any one child remains low. In the data set showing the much higher risk, diabetes incidence was 316 per 100,000 person-years, as compared with a pre-pandemic rate of 125 per 100,000 person-years. But over a population, that increase would be massive.

The study is a very good reminder that parents should be aware of the warning signs of diabetes and should get their kids vaccinated.

Just like with adults, it’s not yet clear how many cases of new-onset diabetes are best described as type 1 or type 2. Researchers were not able to follow up with patients to evaluate the nature of their conditions months after diagnosis; even if they could have done so, it’s possible that it would have been difficult to categorize patients into familiar buckets. Other acute infections are known to hasten the development of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and they can also cause type 3c diabetes. All of these may be happening in different measures.

But the effect is not limited to children that experienced severe Covid infections – even those that were asymptomatic had an increased risk of new-onset diabetes. Some experts have already suggested that all adults that have contracted COVID-19 should be evaluated for metabolic damage, advice that may soon extend to children too.

A strikingly high percentage of these children presented with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), nearly double the pre-pandemic rate. The CDC analysis concluded that the increase in DKA prevalence could not alone be due to patients delaying medical care due to the pandemic, and that COVID-19 must somehow be responsible for the increased severity. DKA is associated most strongly with type 1 diabetes.

The mechanism by which Covid precipitates diabetes remains mysterious. The coronavirus has been theorized to attack the pancreatic Beta cells, which could trigger or accelerate the onset of diabetes. More serious cases also cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and acute stress hyperglycemia, effects that may be exacerbated by the use of steroids in hospitals. Some children, of course, would have developed diabetes regardless of their Covid infection.

Although the CDC study was not able to study the effect of vaccines on the development of new-onset diabetes in children, it has been conclusively shown that the vaccines reduce the likelihood and severity of other Covid complications in children. Covid-caused Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), for example, has affected thousands of American children and caused dozens of deaths, and vaccinations are extraordinarily effective against it. The CDC believes that vaccination will also reduce the incidence of new-onset diabetes associated with COVID-19 in children.

 

Diabetes Daily
Ross Wollen
reviews on diabetes freedom program

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