Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Parents urged to check for symptoms of diabetes after children found link to COVID infection

“It’s just one more reason to vaccinate children.”

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Researchers and physicians are urging parents to be aware of the symptoms of diabetes in children who are infected with COVID-19.

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Children 30 or more days after being infected with COVID were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis than those who were not infected, according to new research published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 does not cause diabetes. But, for children with prediabetes, a virus can trigger an autoimmune process that damages the pancreas, says Dr. Sarah Lawrence said.

“A virus — it could be just a cold — puts stress on the body. We see it all the time,” she said. “They have pre-diabetes for a period of months or years, then they tip over.”

Lawrence suspected there may have been an increase in diabetes diagnoses at CHEO during the pandemic. But, when CHEO’s new type 1 diabetes diagnoses were counted for 2021, it was 127 patients—just a little more than the most recent number, which was a little over 120 new diagnoses annually.

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“It will take us a few years to see if we get a jump in diabetes rates. COVID-19 may have triggered that first bump,” Lawrence said.

“It’s just one more reason to vaccinate children.”

The authors of the CDC study urged health care providers to check for signs of diabetes in children and young people with a history of COVID infection. Symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst, increased appetite, weight loss, tiredness or fatigue, abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting.

Lawrence and her colleagues across Canada have formed a working group to look at ways to engage parents and the general public to raise awareness of symptoms in children.

“I want to reassure people. I’m not expecting a huge spike,” Lawrence said. “But we want parents to be aware of the symptoms and bring their kids (to see doctors) if they notice any of these. It needs monitoring.”

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The CDC study looked at children and youth who were diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 1, 2020 and February 26, 2021, in two US medical claims databases, IQVIA and HealthVerity.

The study reviewed claims from 80,893 younger patients at IQVIA and 439,439 younger patients at HealthVerity. New diabetes diagnoses were 166 percent more likely to occur in IQVIA and 31 percent more likely in HealthVerity in people who were infected with COVID-19 compared to those who were uninfected.

Researchers found that patients under the age of 18 with COVID-19 were more likely to be diagnosed with new diabetes than those who had a pre-pandemic acute respiratory infection.

The CDC study states that studies of European children and youth during the pandemic have already shown an increase in diagnoses of type 1 diabetes and an increase in the frequency and severity of diabetic ketoacidosis at the time of diagnosis. In adults, diabetes can be a long-term consequence of COVID-19 infection.

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The pandemic may also have indirectly increased the risk of diabetes through an increase in body mass index, which is a risk factor for both severe COVID-19 disease and diabetes.

More research is needed. The underlying cause, whether it is the COVID-19 infection or the treatment of the infection, needs to be better understood, the CDC study said. The researchers also wanted to know whether the diabetes associated with COVID-19 is transient or chronic.

Most people with type 1 diabetes, sometimes referred to as “juvenile diabetes” or insulin-dependent diabetes, are diagnosed before the age of 18.

Diabetes Canada estimates that approximately 28,000 youth between the ages of 1 and 19 are living with type 1 diabetes and about 2,000 have type 2. The prevalence of diabetes has increased. A decade ago, there were about 26,000 people between 1 and 19 living with type 1 and type 2, Diabetes Canada says.

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Lawrence said that, when he first began practicing endocrinology at CEO in 1995, about 50 patients with type 1 were diagnosed each year. Now it is a little over 120 cases.

Dr Seema Nagpal, vice president of science and policy at Diabetes Canada, said definitive evidence has not yet emerged.

They said in a statement, “At this early time, research shows an association between contracting COVID-19 and then being diagnosed with diabetes – but there is no definitive evidence that shows new-onset diabetes is caused by COVID-19.” happens,” she said in a statement.

“This is very worrying and we need to do high-quality research to determine what is happening to these young people and why.”

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