COVID-19 associated with increase in new diagnoses of type 1 diabetes among young people, by as much as 72%

Overview: Children who have contracted COVID-19 are at an increased risk of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Researchers found a 72% increase in new cases of type 1 diabetes among those under 18 who contracted COVID-19.

Source: Case Western Reserve

Children infected with COVID-19 are at significantly higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D), according to a new study that analyzed electronic health records of more than 1 million patients aged 18 and under.

In a study published today in the journal: JAMA network openedCase Western Reserve University School of Medicine researchers report that children and adolescents who contracted COVID-19 were more prone to developing T1D in the six months following their COVID-19 diagnosis.

The findings showed a 72% increase in new diagnoses of T1D in COVID-19 patients aged 18 and under, although the study highlighted that it is unclear whether COVID-19 causes a new onset of T1D.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 187,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with T1D nationally.

“Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease,” said Pamela Davis, Distinguished University Professor and The Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin Research Professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, a corresponding author of the study.

“It mainly occurs because the body’s immune defenses attack the cells that produce insulin, stopping insulin production and causing the disease. It has been suggested that COVID increases autoimmune responses, and our current finding reinforces that suggestion.”

The team analyzed the anonymized electronic health records of nearly 1.1 million patients aged 18 and under in the United States and 13 other countries diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection between March 2020 and December 2021, as well as in patients with a non-COVID-related respiratory tract infection during the same period.

The study population was further divided into two groups: patients up to 9 years of age and patients aged 10-18 years. After careful statistical matching to account for age, demographics and family history of diabetes, there were 285,628 in each group for a total of 571,256 patients.

Study findings

The research team found that among more than 571,000 pediatric patients:

  • Within six months of SARS-CoV2 infection, 123 patients (0.043%) had been newly diagnosed with T1D, compared to 72 patients (0.025%) newly diagnosed with a non-COVID respiratory tract infection, a 72% increase in new diagnoses.
  • One, three and six months after infection, the risk of being diagnosed with T1D was significantly greater for those infected with SARS-CoV2 compared to those with non-COVID respiratory infections. Similar results were reported in patients in the infant age groups of 9 years and 10 to 18 years.

“Families at high risk for type 1 diabetes in their children should be especially vigilant for symptoms of diabetes after COVID, and pediatricians should be on the lookout for an influx of new cases of type 1 diabetes, especially as the Omicron variant of COVID spreads so quickly among children,” Davis said.

This shows someone doing a finger prick test
The findings showed a 72% increase in new diagnoses of T1D in COVID-19 patients aged 18 and under, although the study highlighted that it is unclear whether COVID-19 causes a new onset of T1D. Image is in the public domain

“We may see a substantial increase in this disease in the coming months to years. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong challenge for those who have it, and an increased incidence represents a significant number of children who suffer from it.”

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Rong Xu, also a corresponding author, professor of Biomedical Informatics at the School of Medicine and director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery, said further research is needed to examine whether the increased risk of T1D recurrence after SARS -CoV2 infection in pediatric patients will persist, who are vulnerable, and how to treat COVID-19-associated T1D in children.

“We are also investigating possible changes in the development of type 2 diabetes in children after SARS-CoV2 infection,” said Xu.

T1D is most common in children, while type 2 diabetes (T2D) is known as “adult diabetes” and develops over time, often as the patient becomes resistant to the effects of insulin and later, as the pancreas develops stops making enough insulin, according to the CDA.

The Case Western Reserve research team also included David Kaelber, professor of internal medicine, pediatrics, and population and quantitative health sciences, and medical students Ellen Kendall and Veronica Olaker.

Previous COVID-related studies led by the CWRU team have shown that the risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease increases by 50-80% in older adults who have contracted COVID and that people with dementia are twice as likely to contract COVID .

About this COVID-19 and diabetes research news

Author: press office
Source: Case Western Reserve
Contact: Press Agency – Case Western Reserve
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original research: The findings appear in JAMA network opened

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