COVID: Infected children are at higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes

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Children and adolescents infected who have been infected with COVID-19 have a higher chance of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D), latest study showed. However, the research further pointed out that it is unclear whether COVID-19 triggers the new onset of T1D.

For the study over one million patients aged 18 and younger were observed and it showed that 72% increase in new diagnoses of T1D in younger COVID-19 patients in the six months following their diagnosis. The findings have been published recently in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease,” said Pamela Davis, a professor at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, US, and corresponding author of the study.

“It occurs mostly because the body’s immune defenses attack the cells that produce insulin, thereby stopping insulin production and causing the disease. COVID has been suggested to increase autoimmune responses, and our present finding reinforces that suggestion,” Davis said.

For the study, the team analysed the de-identified electronic health records of nearly 1.1 million patients aged 18 years and younger in the US and 13 other countries diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 infection between March 2020 and December 2021.

The patients also included those diagnosed with a non-COVID-related respiratory infection during that same period.

The study found that within six months of SARS-CoV2 infection, 123 patients had received a new diagnosis of T1D, compared to 72 patients who received a new diagnosis following a non-COVID respiratory infection, an increase of 72 per cent in new diagnoses.

At one, three and six months following infection, the risk of diagnosis of T1D was substantially greater for those infected with SARS-CoV-2 compared to those with non-COVID respiratory infections, the researchers said.

Similar results were reported with patients in the infant-9-year-old and 10- to 18-year-old age groups, they said.

 

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