Cases of severe diabetic ketoacidosis in children with onset type 1 diabetes increased during the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, a new study finds.
Researchers found that DKA cases in children with onset type 1 diabetes were much higher in the first three months of the pandemic compared to before.
Lead author, who is from Great Ormond Street Hospital, Dr Sinéad M. McGlacken-Byrne said: “Over a 1-year period, presentations of newly diagnosed childhood-onset type 1 diabetes were more severe during the first COVID-19 wave compared with the nine preceding pre-pandemic months.
“This was evidenced by a lower pH at diagnosis, a higher presenting HbA1c, and a greater risk of developing DKA and severe DKA.”
She added: “These observations are consistent with other reports documenting the higher rates of DKA in both paediatric and adult patient populations during the first months of the pandemic.”
The team of academics studied the medical backgrounds of multiple children with new-onset type 1 diabetes between July 2019 and June 2020.
They assessed the gravity of each child’s DKA before the pandemic and during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The participant’s HbA1c levels were also examined.
The study found that severe DKA cases in children with onset type 1 diabetes increased by 37% during the initial stages of the pandemic, while moderate DKA cases surged by more than 17%. Mild DKA was more prominent before the pandemic.
Additionally, the results revealed that pH was higher before the first wave of COVID-19 and that HbA1c levels increased during the pandemic.
Dr McGlacken-Byrne and her team of researchers said: “It is paramount that paediatricians and primary care providers are aware of this link between COVID-19 and new-onset diabetes severity.
“This is particularly true in view of the ongoing disruption to usual clinical care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; whatever the context, children and young people with suspected new-onset type 1 diabetes require urgent clinical review.”
The full set of results can now be accessed in the journal ‘Diabetic Medicine’.