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Research explores possible link between type 1 diabetes, COVID-19

A trio of new studies from the United States and Europe explore a possible link between COVID-19 and new-onset type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children.

A US study involving data from 14 nations finds that children and adolescents have a 72% increased risk of developing T1D in the first 6 months after COVID-19 infection. Another study, this one from Norway, yielded similar results, while a Scottish study concluded that the virus likely isn't the cause.

T1D, a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin, is typically diagnosed in children.

Causative link not established

In the US study, published today in JAMA Network Open, a team led by Case Western Reserve University researchers analyzed the electronic health records of 285,628 patients aged 0 to 9 years and an equal number aged 10 to 18 in the United States and 13 other countries who tested positive for COVID-19 or other respiratory infection from March 2020 to December 2021.

Of the 571,256 total participants, 123 (0.04%) were newly diagnosed with T1D, compared with 72 (0.03%) who had non-COVID respiratory infections, a 72% increase. In both age-groups 1, 3, and 6 months after infection, the risk of T1D was substantially higher for COVID-19 survivors than for those with other respiratory infections.

The researchers said they don't know whether SARS-CoV-2 triggers the development of T1D.

"Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease," corresponding author Pamela Davis, MD, PhD, said in a Case Western news release. "It occurs mostly because the body's immune defenses attack the cells that produce insulin, thereby stopping insulin production and causing the disease. COVID has been suggested to increase autoimmune responses, and our present finding reinforces that suggestion."

Davi

covid-19 testing infection
www.cidrap.umn.eduwww.cidrap.umn.edu

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