CDC Study: COVID-19 Increases Risk of Diabetes in Children

KINGS BAY, Ga (Nov. 15, 2021) – Della Poponea, a nurse in the Immunizations Clinic at Naval Branch Health Clinic Kings Bay, gives a COVID-19 vaccine to a 9-year-old. Poponea, a native of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, says, “Getting the COVID–19 vaccine adds an extra layer of protection. Everyone who can, should get the vaccine, not just for themselves, but for everyone they love.” (U.S. Navy photo by Deidre Smith, Naval Hospital Jacksonville/Released). #FacesofNHJax

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that children who have been infected with COVID-19 are at a much higher risk for diabetes.

The study compares the rates of diabetes in COVID-19 patients under age 18 to those who had not contracted the virus and to those children diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection (ARI) before the pandemic. Researchers found that children who had contracted COVID-19 were 166% more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis than those who had not and 116% more likely than those who had previously had a non-COVID-19 ARI.

According to the study, this increased risk of diabetes could be due to the effects that COVID-19 has on various organ systems, including directly attacking some pancreatic cells. In addition, one in five adolescents in the U.S. are prediabetic; it’s possible that a COVID-19 infection simply precipitates the transition to full diabetes. It’s also possible that the treatment for the virus – which usually includes steroid treatment during hospitalization – could lead to transient hyperglycemia. However, researchers not that this appeared to be true for only 1.5%-2.2% of the new diabetes diagnoses present in the study.

The CDC recommends all parents and healthcare providers watch for diabetes symptoms in anyone under 18 with a history of COVID-19. Symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In addition, this study further underscores the need for COVID-19 prevention, especially in children. This includes getting your child vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. In the U.S., all children ages 5 and up are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination and all children ages 12+ are eligible for a booster shot. In addition, social distancing, wearing a mask indoors, and remaining home if symptoms are present remain important to preventing COVID-19 in all age groups.

Last week, Dr. Mark Kline at Children’s Hospital New Orleans said that well over 50% of the children at the hospital had COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms, compared with 14 children one week ago. The majority of the hospitalizations are children under five years old, who cannot be vaccinated, and children over five who are unvaccinated.

“The number of children being infected in the community is just massive right now,” Dr. Kline said. “There’s a myth that this virus was harmless for children. I hope that myth is long gone. I think it’s time we stop downplaying the risk that the virus poses for children.”

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 29,019 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Children ages 5-17 represented 16% of new infections across the state. The Greater New Orleans Area represented 15% of all new infections.

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