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Doctors discuss CDC study addressing if COVID-19 can increase risk of diabetes in children

A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children with COVID-19 may be more at risk for diabetes.

AUSTIN, Texas — Positive COVID-19 cases among children are surging, and now there's added concern: doctors are watching for signs of diabetes.

"This is something that has been documented since the beginning of the COVID pandemic," said Michael Yafi, M.D., with UT-Health Houston. 

In a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observational study released Friday, it showed children 18 years and younger who have recovered from COVID-19 appear to be at an increased risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

"So, we know that in some individuals, certain viral infections can cause damage to the pancreas and that can lead to lack of insulin production," said Dr. Manish Naik, chief medical officer at Austin Regional Clinic.

Health officials said Type 1 diabetes in children is always higher during viral infection season, like flu season. With COVID-19, those chances also increase with Type 2 diabetes, which is obesity-related.

"Many physicians have noticed that because many kids during the lockdown have gained a lot of weight," said Dr. Yafi. 

Dr. Naik told KVUE it's important for parents to know the warning signs, which include elevated blood sugar, increased thirst and increased urination. Also, losing weight could be a sign. 

Doctors said it's also important to note that although there was an increase in diabetes, the numbers in the study remain small, so it shouldn't cause panic with the public. 

Instead, it's a reason to have increased awareness and focus on vaccination efforts. 

"If there is any take-home message from a study like this, it's that it's important to get vaccinated. Although we don't know with certainty whether vaccination helps prevent this increase in diabetes that we've seen in this study, we know that there are similar things that happen in children that are preventable by vaccines," said Dr. Naik.


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