PARENTS have been urged to be on the look out for symptoms of a chronic disease after their child has had Covid.
For most children and young people, coronavirus isn’t serious and they will soon recover following rest.
However, experts in the US have revealed that the illness could cause issues months after they initially contract the bug.
Professor Pamela Davis at the University said: “Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease.
“It occurs mostly because the body’s immune defences attack the cells that produce insulin, thereby stopping insulin production and causing the disease.
“Covid has been suggested to increase autoimmune responses, and our present finding reinforces that suggestion.”
The team looked at records of 1.1 million patients under the age of 18.
Each child had been diagnosed with Covid between March 2020 and December 2021.
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They also looked at records of all those diagnosed with non-Covid related respiratory infections during the same time period.
After the patients were split into groups, it found that 571,000 were eligible for the study.
Within over half a million patients, 123 had received a new diagnosed of diabetes compared to 72 who received one following a non-Covid infection.
This, the researchers say, is an increase of 72 per cent in new diagnoses.
They then looked at patients, one, three and six months following infection.
What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes you need to know?
If you have type 1 diabetes, symptoms are likely to come on quickly – especially in children.
The NHS says you might experience symptoms such as:
- feeling very thirsty
- peeing more than usual
- feeling very tired
- losing weight without trying
- thrush that keeps returning
- blurred vision
- cuts and grazes that take a while to heal
- fruit-smelling breath
The experts found that the risk was ‘substantially greater for those infected with SARS-CoV2 compared to those with non-Covid respiratory infections.
Results were persistent across all age groups, they said.
However, the researchers said it is not clear if Covid triggers the illness.
Prof Davis said: “Families with high risk of type 1 diabetes in their children should be especially alert for symptoms of diabetes following Covid, and paediatricians should be alert for an influx of new cases of type 1 diabetes, especially since the Omicron variant of Covid spreads so rapidly among children.
“We may see a substantial increase in this disease in the coming months to years.
“Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong challenge for those who have it, and increased incidence represents substantial numbers of children afflicted.”
Dr Faye Riley, Research Communications Manager at Diabetes UK, said there are still questions around how the two illnesses are linked and whether or not other factors are at play.
She said that it’s still unclear whether Covid-19 could directly increase your risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
“Research is ongoing, and it’s important we gain a full understanding of the links between new cases of diabetes and coronavirus, but whether you’ve had Covid-19 or not, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes to look out for – the 4Ts.
“If you’re feeling more tired or thirsty than usual, need to go to the toilet to wee more often, or have unexplained weight loss (thinner) it’s important so speak to your healthcare professional,” she added.