COVID-19 Linked to Higher Risk for Type 1 in Children and Youth

Text Size:
COVID-19 Linked to Higher Risk for Type 1 in Children and Youth

Children who had COVID-19 are at greater risk for type 1 diabetes compared with children who had other respiratory infections, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

There has been ongoing debate about the risk that having COVID-19 poses when it comes to new diabetes cases. For example, some researchers have speculated that the relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes could run in the opposite direction — that children who are on their way to developing diabetes may be at higher risk for COVID-19, which could explain earlier research findings showing that children who have had the viral infection are at greater risk for diabetes in the following months. In an effort to address this potential problem with earlier study designs, some researchers began comparing COVID-19 with other respiratory infections when looking at who developed diabetes later on. One study from earlier this year found that in the general population, people who had COVID-19 were 28% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who had other respiratory infections.

To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters!

For the latest study, researchers used a large database of electronic health records to look at the risk of developing type 1 diabetes in children and youth ages 18 and younger. Looking at health records between March 2020 and December 2021, they compared the rate of new cases of type 1 diabetes in 314,917 children who had COVID-19, and 776,577 who had another documented respiratory infection. Results were analyzed separately for children ages 0 to 9, and those ages 10 to 18. In calculating their results, the researchers adjusted for family history of type 1 diabetes and other known type 1 diabetes risk factors.

Risk of type 1 diabetes increased with COVID-19 compared to other respiratory infections

The researchers found that for children who had COVID-19, the rate of new type 1 diabetes within six months was 0.043%, while the rate was 0.025% for children with other respiratory infections. Within one month of infection, the risk for type 1 diabetes was 1.96 times as large for children who had COVID-19 compared with other respiratory infections. Within three months, it was 2.10 times as large, and within six months, it was 1.83 times as large. For children ages 0 to 9, the risk for type 1 among those with COVID-19 was 1.93 times as large after one month, 1.75 times as large after three months, and 1.73 times as great after six months. For children ages 10 to 18, this risk was 2.66 times as great after one month, 2.40 times as great after three months, and 2.18 times as great after six months.

“Respiratory infections have previously been associated with onset of [type 1 diabetes], but this risk was even higher among those with COVID-19 in our study, raising concern for long-term, post-COVID-19 autoimmune complications among youths,” the researchers concluded. They cautioned, though, that there was a possibility of type 2 diabetes being misclassified as type 1 in some records, and that unidentified factors might explain some of the connection between COVID-19 and newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.

Want to learn more about coronavirus and diabetes? Read our latest COVID-19 updates.

Want to learn more about raising a child with type 1 diabetes? Read “The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis,” “Type 1 Diabetes at School: What Personnel Need to Know,” and “Type 1 Diabetes and Sleepovers or Field Trips.”

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

Get Diabetes-Friendly Recipes In Your Inbox

Sign up for Free

Stay Up To Date On News & Advice For Diabetes

Sign up for Free

Get On Track With Daily Lifestyle Tips

Sign up for Free

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article