Celiac disease, Covid-19, and diabetes risk in children
On January 7, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a report on the connection between Covid-19 and risk of developing diabetes in children. Their findings indicate that people under the age of 18 who tested positive for Covid-19 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis (either type 1 or type 2) as a direct result of the virus or indirectly due to weight gain during the pandemic. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7102e2.htm?s_cid=mm7102e2_w
Given that individuals with celiac disease are already at higher risk for developing type 1 diabetes (https://gluten.org/2019/10/17/diabetes-and-celiac-disease/), this report underscores the importance of both Covid-19 prevention strategies for this population group and monitoring for potential symptoms of diabetes.
The data analyzed – which included over 80,000 patients with Covid-19 — showed that individuals under the age of 18 with Covid-19 were significantly more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis over 30 days after infection, compared to those without Covid-19. The CDC states that the virus may have direct effects on organ systems, such as attacks to pancreatic cells and metabolic changes, as well as indirect effects through increased body mass index related to the pandemic. Increased body mass index is a risk factor for both serious Covid-19 illness and diabetes. More research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved.
According to the CDC, these findings highlight the importance of Covid-19 prevention strategies in this age group. The CDC also recommends that healthcare providers screen for diabetes symptoms in people under 18 who have a history of Covid-19 infection.