A small team of researchers with members from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the MetroHealth System has found a link between children who contract COVID-19 and an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. In their paper published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the group describes their analysis of health records of children and adolescents during the pandemic.
Type 1 diabetes is a rare autoimmune disease—for unknown reasons, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. According to the CDC, for any given year, approximately 187,000 children and adolescents are living with T1D. It begins mostly in children and is not reversible. Those with T1D must manage their disease for the rest of their lives. In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence that some children and adolescents may be more susceptible to developing T1D after being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In this study for which a team from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Ellen K. Kendall, Veronica R. Olaker, Rong Xu, PhD, and Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD) and the MetroHealth System (David C. Kaelber, MD, PhD) in Cleveland, Ohio, analyzed data from the TriNetX Analytics Platform. This platform includes the electronic health records of over 90 million patients from 74 large health care organizations across all 50 US states and 14 different countries. Thus, the TriNetX platform can provide some X-tra large sample sizes.
From this platform, the research team identified 571, 256 patients who were 18 years of age and less: 285 ,628 of whom had had Covid-19 between March 2020 and December 2021, and 285,628 matched patients who had had non–Covid-19 respiratory infections but not Covid-19 during that same time period. One month after being diagnosed with Covid-19, patients were 96% more likely to be newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes than those who just had a non-Covid-19 respiratory infection. This bumped up to 110% more likely three months after the Covid-19 diagnosis and then was 83% more likely six months after the Covid-19 diagnosis. By six-month mark after the Covid-19 diagnosis, 0.043% (123 patients) had been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which is about 72% more than the 0.025% (72 patients) who only had had non–Covid-19 respiratory infections.