Doctors in Bengaluru have come across cases of children, who have developed diabetes after contracting COVID-19. In a person with Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin which breaks down sugar and turns it into energy.
Dr Srikanta J T, a consultant of paediatric pulmonology at Aster CMI Hospital reported that his team has seen three cases of children developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life- threatening build-up of acid in the blood.
Dr Srikanta said there is evidence to suggest that the virus may have entered the pancreas through the ACE2 receptor and damaged the pancreatic beta islet cells which produce insulin.
This can cause transient or new-onset of Type 1 diabetes. The long-term effects on children's health are a cause for concern, said Dr Yogesh Gupta, paediatrician at Fortis Hospital, Banngerghatta Road.
“We have found Type 1 diabetes in children after a Covid infection. It can cause long-term morbidity, mortality and can lead to poor quality of life. Since COVID-19 cases are on the rise, we may see more children with these problems.” So far, 20,008 children between the age of 0-10 years in Karnataka have contracted COVID-19.
Dr Manu Chaudhary, a consultant for paediatric infectious diseases at Rainbow Children’s Hospital, recently treated a 10-year-old who developed diabetes soon after she was diagnosed with COVID- 19. While most children with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have a mild infection, this child’s condition turned severe, and they had to be prescribed Remedesivir. “As this is a new virus, we don't know much yet. Children who have already been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes need to be careful as their condition could worsen (if they contract COVID-19),” Dr Chaudhary added.
This study, published in the Diabetes Care journal, analysed data from 30 children in London hospitals diagnosed with new-onset Type 1 diabetes during the first peak of the pandemic– around double the cases seen in this period in previous years.
While the study is based on only a handful of cases, it is the first to link COVID-19 and new-onset Type 1 diabetes in children, and doctors should be on the look-out, the Imperial College London researchers said.
“Our analysis shows that during the peak of the pandemic the number of new cases of Type 1 diabetes in children was unusually high in two of the hospitals (we studied) compared to previous years,” said Karen Logan, who co-led the study.
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