Jan. 10, 2022 -- Children who recover from COVID-19 appear to have a significantly higher risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, according to a new CDC study released on Friday.

In one data set, researchers found a 2.6-fold increase in new diabetes cases among children. In a second data set, they found a 30% increase.

“Even a 30% increase is a big increase in risk,” Sharon Saydah, the lead study author and a CDC researcher, told The New York Times.

The differences in the data likely come from the different ways that children were classified as having COVID-19, she noted.

The increases in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were seen among those who had been sick with COVID-19 and those who were asymptomatic but tested positive.

Researchers are unsure whether Type 2 diabetes after COVID-19 will be a chronic condition or a temporary issue that resolves since the children were only followed for about four months.

At the same time, Saydah said, the findings point to the importance of vaccinating all children who are eligible for a COVID-19 shot, using masks, and distancing to protect the youngest children who aren’t yet eligible, and monitoring kids for long-term illnesses after COVID-19 infection.

“It’s really important for clinicians, pediatricians, and parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes so they can get their kids diagnosed,” she told the newspaper.

The most common signs and symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, unintentional weight loss, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 infection has been associated with worsening diabetes symptoms, and those with diabetes have faced higher risks for severe COVID-19. In addition, several studies have found an increased risk of diabetes among adults who contract COVID-19, and researchers in Europe have reported an increased risk of Type 1 diabetes among children. However, the CDC study is the first to find an increased risk for both types.

CDC researchers looked at one data set with health care claims between March 2020 and February 2021 and analyzed another data set that included patients with any health care encounter possibly related to COVID-19 between March 2020 and June 2021. The risk for diabetes was similar across age groups and genders.

COVID-19 may damage the organ systems that involve diabetes risk, the researchers said. The virus might also directly attack pancreatic cells, and cause stress and high blood sugar during infection, and alter glucose metabolism. Pandemic-related weight gain and sedentary behavior could also play a role in escalating prediabetes to diabetes.

“Partner agencies and clinicians in the field should be aware of long-term consequences and monitor persons aged <18 years in the months following a SARS-CoV-2 infection for new diabetes onset,” the researchers wrote.

Show Sources

CDC: “Risk for Newly Diagnosed Diabetes >30 Days After SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Persons Aged <18 Years – United States, March 1, 2020-June 28, 2021.”

The New York Times: “Covid may raise the risk of diabetes in children, CDC researchers reported.”

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