Children testing COVID positive more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes: CDC study

Data shared by IQVIA said that children who test positive for COVID twice more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes over 30 days after being tested for the virus than those who aren’t found positive

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Children testing positive for COVID may have a greater risk of contracting Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes than children who have never been infected with the virus, a study by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has found.

The study analyzed millions of healthcare records from medical data analytics companies IQVIA and HealthVerity between March 2020 and June 2021. While the IQVIA records had the details of around 1.7 million children, HealthVerity data gave insight into the health records of around 900,000 children.

Data shared by IQVIA said that children who test positive for COVID were 2.66 times or 166 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes over 30 days after being tested for the virus than those who aren’t found positive. These children are also 2.16 times likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than children who have suffered non-COVID respiratory infection before the pandemic’s outbreak.

“New diabetes diagnoses were 166 per cent (IQVIA) and 31 per cent (HealthVerity) more likely to occur among patients with COVID-19 than among those without COVID-19 during the pandemic and 116 per cent more likely to occur among those with COVID-19 than among those with ARI during the pre-pandemic period,” the study titled ‘Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report’ said.

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The study was led by Sharon Saydah, PhD, member of the CDC Emergency Response Team.

HealthVerity data said COVID-infected children are 1.31 times or 31 per cent more likely to get diabetes.

While the study establishes a clear link between COVID-19 and diabetes, the scientists involved have said that it is probably because COVID attacks cells in the pancreas, which produces insulin in the body.

“COVID-19 might lead to diabetes through direct attack of pancreatic cells expressing angiotensin converting enzyme 2 receptors, through stress hyperglycemia resulting from the cytokine storm and alterations in glucose metabolism caused by infection, or through precipitation of prediabetes to diabetes,” the authors of the study wrote.

Previous studies have also shown an association between Sars-CoV-2 and diabetes in adults.

The scientists said that the use of steroid treatment during hospitalization during COVID may also lead to “transient hyperglycemia”.

Around 80,893 patients formed the IQVIA database. These are children who tested positive for COVID from March 1, 2020 through February 26, 2021. Around half of these patients were female with an average age of 12 and only 0.7 per cent were hospitalized for coronavirus. On the other hand, the HealthVerity database contained details of 440,000 patients, who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1, 2020 and June 28, 2021. The average age of the patients was 13 years and around 0.9 per cent of them were hospitalized.

In both the databases, 94 per cent of the cases of diabetes were either Type 1 or Type 2, the researchers found.

Stressing the importance of preventive measures, the authors said vaccination was the best way to avoid the twin diseases.

Dr Saydah said it was unclear whether Type 2 diabetes will become a chronic condition in children following COVID or phase out.

The findings were published on the day CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that the hospitalization of children due to COVID-19 has reached a record high due to the spread of the Omicron variant. He said a large population of patients hail from ages four and below, who are not eligible to receive the vaccine.

 

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