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Diabetes Rates Increase in Children During COVID-19 Pandemic

Two recently published studies have identified increases in T1D in children since the pandemic began.

There has been an increase in type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to 2 new studies.

Researchers in San Diego, California noted a significant increase in the frequency of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) at the time of T1D diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics.1

From March 19, 2020, to March 18, 2021, 187 children were admitted to Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego for new-onset T1D—a 57% spike from the previous year, the researchers said.

In addition, between July 2020 and February 2021, the number of new T1D diagnoses exceeded the number of patients anticipated within the 95% CI based on a quarterly moving average of the preceding 5 years.

“To our knowledge, although a few prior studies have observed an increase in T1D and DKA during the COVID-19 pandemic, others have not, and most have been limited to a short time period,” the researchers wrote. "By measuring a 12-month interval after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our cross-sectional study accounted for seasonal variation in the onset of new T1D cases.”

A related study, published in Diabetes Care,2 also found a significant increase in the incidence of T1D in children during the pandemic.

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Researchers in Germany found that from January 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the incidence of children and adolescents with diabetes was significantly higher than expected (24.4 [95% CI, 23.6-25.2] vs 21.2 [95% CI, 20.5-21.9]; incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.15 [95% CI, 1.10-1.20]). The IRRs were “significantly elevated” in June 2020, July 2020, March 2021, and June 2021 (IRR, 1.43, 1.48, 1.29, and 1.39, respectively).

“COVID-19 pandemic control efforts abruptly [changed] social contacts, the behavior of families with children, and child health care practices, which may have resulted in a dramatic decrease in biodiversity in children, particularly in young children,” the researchers wrote.

“This change in total environmental exposure, the exposome, could be the link to the increased incidence of T1D in young children seen in our study,” they added.

References

  1. Gottesman BL, Yu J, Tanaka C, Longhurst CA, Kim JJ. Incidence of new-onset type 1 diabetes among US children during the COVID-19 global pandemic. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 24, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.5801
  2. Kamrath C, Rosenbauer J, Eckert AJ, et al. Incidence of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany: Results from the DPV Registry. Diabetes Care. Published online January 17, 2022. Doi:10.2337/dc21-0969


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