Lexington doctors looking at connection between COVID-19, diabetes in kids

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 10, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Children who contract COVID-19 are more likely to develop diabetes, according to the latest research from the CDC. On Friday, researchers released a new study showing a connection between the two diseases.

“We know there's a link there,” said Dr. Beth Hawse with Commonwealth Pediatrics in Lexington. “Now the question is going to be, why is there a link?”

At Dr. Hawes’ office, she’s keeping an eye on this research. The pediatrician told LEX 18 that she’s even seen it happen with a child in her own practice.

“It was someone who had COVID, and then a few weeks later had diabetes symptoms, and was a new Type 1 diabetic,” she said.

In the CDC’s study, doctors looked at more than half a million COVID-19 patients younger than 18. They discovered children who contracted the virus were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes less than a month later.

The children were tested in two groups. In the first group, the risk of new diabetes diagnosis was 166% higher. In the second group, the risk was 31% higher and was not seen in kids younger than 12. Scientists say there are multiple possible reasons for the increased risk, including the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and a child’s weight.

“It doesn’t mean you should freak out, but it does mean you should call your doctor,” said Dr. Hawse.

Her advice to parents whose children have gotten COVID-19: keep any eye on any changes they might exhibit. Symptoms of diabetes can include increased thirst or hunger, frequent urination, and fatigue.

This is especially important for families with a history of the disease and in the Commonwealth. Kentucky currently ranks 8th in the country for diabetes prevalence.

“We just need to be especially careful in this state,” Dr. Hawse said. “We have a high rate anyways. We don't want to see that increase further.”