COVID-19 infections in children may increase their risk of diabetes: CDC

Children who have had COVID-19 seem to be at increased risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday.

Past studies show increased risk in developing diabetes as an adult after recovering from COVID-19. Research in Europe also found a higher rate of diabetes diagnoses among children since the beginning of the pandemic.

The study examined two large insurance claim databases across the United States to document the number of diabetes diagnoses among children under 18 who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19. These children were compared with those who had never been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Both groups of children had higher rates of diabetes diagnoses. However, those who previously had COVID-19 experienced a diabetes increase of 166 percent compared to a 30 percent increase among the group free of COVID-19.

The children were monitored for approximately 4 1/2 months. It is unclear whether the diabetes cases will be alleviated or present a chronic issue for children, study author Sharon Saydah said.

COVID-19 and diabetes may be linked because the virus attacks cells in the pancreas — the part of the body producing insulin, according to the study.

Saydah emphasized the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible children. She also urged parents to familiarize themselves with symptoms of diabetes in order to swiftly diagnose children.

Weight gain and sedentary behavior — risk factors for diabetes — have also increased during the pandemic.

The study noted that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority groups. Children belonging to those groups are also at higher risk for diabetes.

The health care records used in the study were from medical data analytics companies IQVIA and HealthVerity. The sample from IQVIA included about 1.7 million children while the HealthVerity sample included nearly 900,000 children.


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