HealthDay News — There has been a significant increase in the number of type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnoses in children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Bethany L. Gottesman, MD, from University of California in San Diego, and colleagues performed a 6-year retrospective review of medical records to evaluate changes in the incidence of new-onset T1D and the number of children presenting with severe illness at diabetes onset. Comparisons were made from the COVID-19 year (March 19, 2020, to March 18, 2021) and the 5 years prior (March 19, 2015, to March 18, 2020).

The researchers found that during the COVID-19 year, 187 children were admitted for new-onset T1D vs 119 children admitted the previous year. For July 2020 through February 2021, the number of new diagnoses of T1D exceeded the number of patients anticipated based on a quarterly moving average of the preceding 5 years (July 2020: 15 diagnoses; 10 forecasted diagnoses; February 2021: 21 diagnoses; 10 forecasted diagnoses). The percentage of patients who presented with diabetic ketoacidosis increased during the COVID-19 years vs the 5 preceding years, but with no difference in mean age at presentation, body mass index z score, hemoglobin A1c, or percentage of children requiring pediatric intensive care unit admission. There was a significant increase observed in the number of children requiring an insulin infusion at the time of T1D diagnosis (49.7% during the COVID-19 pandemic vs 40.7% in the preceding 5 years).

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“We reviewed the 5-year period before the COVID-19 pandemic to account for annual increases in T1D cases to show that the case rate during the COVID-19 pandemic was higher than expected at our institution,” the authors write.

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