Covid-19 infection may increase risk of type 1 diabetes, a nationwide study of 1.2 million children suggests.
Researchers in Norway looked at the risk of young people developing new-onset type 1 diabetes within or after 30 days of infection. They compared this group to children and adolescents in the general population who did not have a registered infection, as well as to a group of children who were tested but found negative for the virus.
During the two-year study period, among the 1.2 million children and adolescents enrolled in the study, a total of 424,354 children tested positive for Covid and 990 new cases of type 1 diabetes were diagnosed. After adjusting for age, gender, country of origin, geographic area and socioeconomic factors, the analyzes found that young people who had contracted Covid were about 60 percent more likely to develop type 1 diabetes 30 days or more after infection than those without a registered infection or have tested negative for the virus.
However, the authors said the exact reason for the increased risk of type 1 diabetes in young people post-Covid is not yet fully understood and requires longer-term follow-up and further research into whether the risk is different in children infected with could be different variants.
dr Hanne Løvdal Gulseth, lead author and research director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said: “Our nationwide study suggests a possible link between Covid-19 and emerging type 1 diabetes. However, the absolute risk of developing type 1 diabetes increased from 0.08 percent to 0.13 percent and is still low.
“The vast majority of young people who develop Covid-19 will not develop type 1 diabetes, but it is important that doctors and parents are aware of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Constant thirst, frequent urination, extreme fatigue, and unexpected weight loss are telltale symptoms.”
The results will be presented today/Friday at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm.
Independent scientists said while there are a number of credible reasons why Covid could lead to the development of type 1 diabetes, this has not been proven in any way. Increased testing at the time of infection and delays in seeking medical care could potentially explain the associations observed.
It’s also possible that other factors that have emerged during the pandemic — including the behavior of other viruses associated with type 1 diabetes and changes in vitamin D exposure from less time outdoors — could lead to an increase in cases .
dr Gareth Nye, Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester, said: “The finding that a novel virus can increase the risk of type 1 diabetes is not surprising given the current pool of knowledge, but the risk reported in both cases still is incredibly small and huge The majority of the population will not develop the disease however as lockdown procedures are in place in reported countries we may be seeing an artifact where children are close to parents or guardians for a greater proportion of the time, leading to a heightened sense of concern about the pandemic, which is why children are being diagnosed so close to testing positive.”