COVID-19 infection may increase a person’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes, the type of diabetes affecting the pancreas. A new study has shed more light on how viral infection could lead to serious complications.

Diabetes Risk In COVID Patients

A study of more than 27 million people in the United States found that individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 were at a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes than those who did not contract SARS-CoV-2 during the same period.

The researchers reported their findings in the journal PLOS One earlier this month, saying that the risk was 42% for COVID-19 patients to develop juvenile diabetes after their bout with the coronavirus. The risk was highest at 584% among pediatric patients (under the age of 1) and elevated among older adult patients.

After evaluating their collected data for the differences across race and ethnicity, the team found that the COVID-19-associated risk of type 1 diabetes was most pronounced in American Indian/Alaskan Native (130%), followed by Asian/Pacific Islander (101%) and Blacks (59%).

Implications Of The Findings

For Trenton Honda, one of the research team members, serious consequences are not out of the question. After all, type 1 diabetes is a chronic or life-long autoimmune disease that requires a lifetime of insulin therapy.

“Particularly in pediatric populations, [COVID-19] is not usually a life-threatening, oftentimes not serious, condition. But type 1 diabetes is usually a lifetime illness that requires dramatic amounts of contact with the medical community, increases your risk of death, increases your risk of long-term comorbidity,” Honda told Medical Xpress.

The clinical professor and associate dean in Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences pointed out that their study focused on COVID-19 cases in the absence of vaccines. They intend to understand whether immunization against the novel coronavirus minimized the risk of type 1 diabetes next.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Another study published in March presented evidence that people with long COVID were also likely to develop type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. The condition developed as part of post-acute sequelae, according to the researchers.

After examining data from more than 181,000 Department of Veterans Affairs COVID patients from March 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, the team found that people with long COVID were 46% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The elevated risk was evident in patients with mild or asymptomatic symptoms, and it went up in severe COVID cases.

Even though the study determined a strong association between COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link between the two conditions. Study leader Ziyad Al-Aly noted that for the “broader public,” it’s important to pay attention to blood sugar after battling COVID-19.