Paediatric Type-2 diabetes complications rise in US during Covid


While the ongoing Covid pandemic has reportedly affected children much less than adults, a new study shows that an increasing number of children with Type-2 diabetes have faced severe complications.

There has been a surge of children with life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) — a severe complication of Type-2 diabetes — during the Covid pandemic, revealed the study from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

“DKA happens when insulin levels in the blood drop too low for too long,” said lead author Lily Chao, Interim Medical Diabetes Director at CHLA.

“Insulin helps the body utilise glucose. So when there’s not enough insulin, the body starts breaking down fat as a source of energy,” she added.

This process, she said, causes dangerously high levels of acids in the blood. If untreated, this can lead to cerebral oedema, coma, or even death. “Kids are coming in with dehydration and DKA. But DKA is preventable and reversible if we treat it early and appropriately,” Chao noted.

While cases of DKA in children was very few, the doctor at CHLA began seeing a spike in cases since March 2020.

“There is definitely a link between Covid-19 and diabetes,” said Senta Georgia, an investigator in The Saban Research Institute of CHLA.

“We don’t know whether SARS-CoV-2 infects insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas. There are some reports of a link between Covid-19 and diabetes in adults, but no paediatric studies have been published to date,” Georgia added.