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Study says COVID-19 could trigger diabetes in children

1 month ago 17

Doctors say they’ve observed a possible link between COVID-19 and new onset Type 1 diabetes in children.

The doctors who studied a spike in new cases of new onset Type 1 Diabetes believe COVID-19 could be “triggering some of these children to develop” the immune disease.

The study began in hospitals in north west London during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, when doctors observed “approximately double” the amount of new cases of Type 1 diabetes.

Dr Karen Logan from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust told the BBC Type 1 diabetes has genetic risk but environmental factors can also contribute to developing the disease.

She said the study found “a high number of new cases, compared to previous years”.

“When we investigated further, some of these children had active COVID-19 or had evidence of having previously been exposed to the virus.”

“What we do know is that Type 1 diabetes in children tends to have a seasonal pattern and you have larger numbers of children presenting over the winter months.

“This points towards a likely impact of viral triggers. We think that occurs in children that are already susceptible to developing Type 1 diabetes. And we suspect COVID-19 may be behaving in a similar manner and triggering some of these children to develop diabetes.”

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Type 1 diabetes often develops in people under the age of 30, and is not affected by lifestyle. It’s not known what causes Type 1 diabetes, according to Diabetes Australia, however there is a strong family link. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease affecting the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin.

Dr Logan said the study didn’t look at the mechanism of the virus and she stressed further research was needed.

The cohort were analysed for ten weeks, from the start of the UK lockdown on March 23 to the beginning of June. Dr Logan said in that period 30 children presented with new onset diabetes in north west London hospitals.

“We’re talking about small numbers but that’s approximately double what we would normally see,” she said.

“In two of the units ten cases were reported each compared to maybe two four over previous five year periods.”

The new study was published on Diabetes Care on August 17, and looked at children in National Health Service Hospitals.

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