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

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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 establishedIn 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.

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