Rise in Type1 Diabetes During Pandemic, Study Finds

    Rise in Type1 Diabetes During Pandemic, Study Finds

    For the past 6 months, medical experts have stated that people with chronic underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease are at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. But, based on a recent study, an increase in type 1 diabetes statistics shows that children develop new-onset type 1 diabetes during the pandemic.

    Diabetes and Coronavirus

    As of today, there is limited data to support the claims of an increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in relation to COVID-19.

    People with diabetes worry most about the complications they might endure from COVID-19. This is because they are more susceptible to more lethal complications and even death than normal individuals.

    The severity of the virus will depend on how people manage their diabetes. COVID-19 can trigger an intense inflammatory response and poorly controlled diabetes is a risk factor for infection in general.

    People with diabetes who are able manage their illness well are less likely to contract complications of COVID-19. On the other hand, people with uncontrolled diabetes are more vulnerable to serious symptoms and complications of the virus.

    Type-1 Diabetes in Children and COVID-19

    Based on a new study, there has been an increase in type 1 diabetes statistics during the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase is noticeable in children who have developed type 1 diabetes after being exposed to the virus.

    According to a study conducted by Imperial College London, the number of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes has doubled during the height of coronavirus in the UK.

    The study suggests that there could be a link between the rise of new-onset type 1 diabetes and COVID-19.

    In the study, 21 children were tested to see if they have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Some were tested for antibodies and the others underwent a nasopharyngeal swab.

    After the tests, five children who were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes were found to have strains of the coronavirus from past and current infection.

    70% of the children who have developed new-onset type 1 diabetes have shown signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

    DKA is a life-threatening condition if not diagnosed and treated immediately. This condition occurs when the body begins to run out of insulin.

    Out of the 72 %, 52 % of the children have developed severe DKA. The numbers are surprising in comparison to statistics from before the pandemic.

    Although the study has shown that there is a noticeable increase of type 1 diabetes in children during the pandemic, the researchers of the study still encourage other institutions to do further investigation. This is to confirm that there is an absolute link between the coronavirus and the development of new-onset type 1 diabetes in children.

    The Connection Between Type 1 Diabetes and COVID-19

    Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to make insulin or produce a very little amount of insulin. When the body lacks insulin, the body will not be able to regulate blood glucose levels.

    If the glucose level remains too high, then it might result in hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can lead to complications like vision and nerve problems. It can also increase a person’s risk of heart and kidney disease, as well as stroke.

    In the past years, healthcare practitioners called type 1 diabetes “juvenile diabetes”. This is because the condition is more likely to manifest in children. But there are instances where type-1 diabetes can also develop in young adults, as well as adults. The treatments used for type 1 diabetes are insulin injections or insulin pumps.

    Researchers from Imperial College London suggest that the spike in newly developed type 1 diabetes may be due to a sudden increase in a protein triggered by a viral infection like the coronavirus.

    increase in type-1 diabetes statistics

    An individual who has no history of diabetes can develop new-onset type 1 diabetes once exposed to the coronavirus. This can happen when coronavirus spike protein clings onto the ACE2 receptors found in the pancreas.

    The study speculates that once the virus penetrates the receptors, it will begin to disrupt the functionality of the cells. When the cells aren’t functioning well, then it might result in glycolysis abnormalities. Also, there’s a likelihood that when the virus penetrates the cells it might lead to inflammation that can terminate islet cells.

    Although there are studies that laid down possibilities that may confirm the link between COVID-19 and the emergence of type 1 diabetes in children, these studies are still scarce and need additional evidence and research in the future. Still, it is unknown if COVID-19 caused the increase of type-1 diabetes statistics in children.

    Key Takeaways

    There is still a lack of findings that support the link between COVID-19 and the increase in type 1 diabetes statistics in children. That is why the researchers of the study are convincing everyone, especially the clinicians, to be more conscious about this rising problem.

    To ensure your child’s safety from COVID-19 and type 1 diabetes, it is with great importance to follow health precautions. Give your children proper and healthier meals, as well as vitamins to boost their immunity against these diseases.

    Be a good role model, follow all safety protocols, and explain to your children the dangers of the coronavirus. Always remember to keep your children safe at home. It is also advisable to keep yourself from going outdoors so you can protect yourself and your family against COVID-19.

    Learn more about Type 1 Diabetes here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

    General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas


    Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Dec 13, 2022

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