Child with diabetes (illustrative)
Child with diabetes (illustrative)iStock

A new research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that children who contracted COVID-19 and recovered are at significantly increased risk of developing diabetes than children who did not contract COVID-19.

The research, published Friday, also showed that children who recovered from COVID-19 were at significantly increased risk of diabetes even when compared to children who had recovered from another respiratory virus.

"SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with worsening of diabetes symptoms, and persons with diabetes are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 infection might also induce newly diagnosed diabetes," CDC said in its release.

According to CDC, "Persons aged less than18 years with COVID-19 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis more than 30 days after infection than were those without COVID-19 and those with prepandemic acute respiratory infections."

"Non–SARS-CoV-2 respiratory infection was not associated with an increased risk for diabetes."

The research focused on retrospective cohorts which were constructed using two U.S. medical claims databases: IQVIA¶ and HealthVerity. It included patients who were aged less than 18 years on their index encounter date and who were continuously enrolled in a closed payor system throughout the study period. These children were followed from their index date until the end of the study period.

"Patients were excluded from the analysis if they had preexisting diabetes, defined as one or more International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) diagnosis codes for diabetes (E08–E13) in the 1–13 months preceding their index date," CDC noted.

The research clearly shows that children who did not have diabetes before contracting COVID-19 went on to develop it more than 30 days after contracting coronavirus.

"These findings are consistent with previous research demonstrating an association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and diabetes in adults," CDC said. "The inclusion of only patients aged <18 years with a health care encounter possibly related to COVID-19 in the non–COVID-19 HealthVerity group could account for the lower magnitude of increased diabetes risk in this group compared with risk in the IQVIA group."

"In addition, patients without COVID-19 in HealthVerity had higher hospitalization rates than did those in IQVIA, suggesting more severe disease at the index encounter in the HealthVerity comparison group."

"The observed association between diabetes and COVID-19 might be attributed to the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on organ systems involved in diabetes risk," CDC explained. "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."

"A percentage of these new diabetes cases likely occurred in persons with prediabetes, which occurs in one in five adolescents in the United States."

"Steroid treatment during hospitalization might lead to transient hyperglycemia; however, only 1.5%–2.2% of diabetes codes were for drug- or chemical-induced diabetes, with the majority of codes being for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Alternatively, COVID-19 might have indirectly increased diabetes risk through pandemic-associated increases in body mass index, a risk factor for both serious COVID-19 illness and diabetes."

Regardless, the researchers called on pediatricians to watch for signs of diabetes among children who contract COVID-19, with CDC emphasizing, "Health care providers should screen for diabetes symptoms in persons aged less than 18 years with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection."

"These symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, weight loss, tiredness or fatigue, stomach pain, and nausea or vomiting."