Covid-19 associated with 72% greater risk of type 1 diabetes in children, study shows

Do you still think that getting Covid-19 is not a problem for children? Well, there is growing evidence that Covid-19 can hit you directly in the pancreas. And a study just published as a research letter in JAMA Network raises the possibility that Covid-19 could somehow lead to type 1 diabetes. Since type 1 diabetes develops when the beta islet cells in your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin, this research letter is a kind of beta, so to speak. mail. It adds to the growing concern that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or your immune system’s response to the virus could potentially affect beta islet cells.

Now, insulin is a pretty important hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Lack of adequate insulin production can lead to excessively high blood sugar levels and, in turn, damage to your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. These not-so-sweet complications can be seriously disabling and even life-threatening. This video from Diabetes UK describes type 1 diabetes in about two minutes:

So you have to take any increase in the number of new type 1 diagnoses seriously. There have been a number of reasons for taking Covid-19 in children seriously, but several studies have emerged in 2022 that also raise concerns about type 1 diabetes. For example, a research letter published on January 24, 2022 in JAMA Pediatrics reported a 57% increase in new type 1 diabetes diagnoses in children during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the year before. Then a study published in PLoS ONE on April 19, 2022, found that those who had a SARS-CoV-2 infection were 42% more likely to receive such a new diagnosis compared to those who had no such infection. had had.

This brought us to this latest study that involved a team from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Ellen K. Kendall, Veronica R. Olaker, Rong Xu, PhD, and Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD) and the MetroHealth System ( David C. Kaelber, MD, PhD) in Cleveland, Ohio, analyzed data from the TriNetX Analytics Platform. This platform includes the electronic health records of more than 90 million patients from 74 major healthcare organizations in all 50 US states and 14 different countries. Thus, the TriNetX platform can provide some X-tra large sample size.

On this platform, the research team identified 571 256 patients aged 18 and under: 285,628 of them had Covid-19 between March 2020 and December 2021 and 285,628 matched patients who had had non-Covid-19 respiratory infections, but not Covid-19 during that same period. . One month after being diagnosed with Covid-19, patients were 96% more likely to be newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes than those who just had a non-Covid-19 respiratory infection. This rose to 110% more likely three months after the Covid-19 diagnosis and then was 83% more likely six months after the Covid-19 diagnosis. Six months after the Covid-19 diagnosis, 0.043% (123 patients) had been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which is about 72% more than the 0.025% (72 patients) who had only had non-Covid-19 respiratory infections.

Of course, this JAMA network opened research letter did not offer an open and closed case for the possibility of beta islet cells. After all, it was an observational cohort study, which can only show associations and not cause and effect. Also, keep in mind that electronic health records don’t necessarily show everything that’s going on with a patient. You’ve probably heard that just because global warming has occurred in the same period as the number of pirates at sea has declined. It means that educating pirates would be one way to reverse global warming. That would be an “arrrgh” wrong conclusion. Likewise, more studies are needed to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 infections really caused type 1 diabetes.

Still, such a cause-and-effect situation could very well be possible. Keep in mind that SARS-CoV-2 is still a relatively new virus. Scientists still don’t know what it can do to your body. A SARS-CoV-2 infection is not like makeup or plastic surgery. The effects may not be so obvious. And most of the time, you can’t see body parts like your pancreas in your mirror. (If possible, call your doctor right away.) Plus, when it encounters a virus for the first time, your immune system may act like a virgin for the first time on a date and try all sorts of random things without realizing the damage is being caused. caused. Therefore, vaccination against Covid-19 can be useful, including for children. It can help your immune system get used to the spike protein, an important part of SARS-CoV-2, in a controlled way. This way, your immune system is less likely to attack parts of your own body, such as your beta islet cells. In other words, your immune system can beta know what it’s doing.

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