Hospitalization rate for new onset type 2 diabetes in children more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study suggests.
Researchers looked at the number of kids who were admitted at one hospital in Louisiana in March to December 2019 and over the same time period in 2020.
They found that the rate went from 0.27 percent in 2019 to 0.62 percent last year, which is a 2.3-fold increase.
The team, from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says stat-at-home orders and lockdowns during the pandemic likely caused kids to be less active and more sedentary, which led tot hem developing type 2 diabetes.
A new study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found the hospitalization rate for new onset type 2 diabetes increased from 0.27% in 2019 to 0.62% in 2020 (file image)
‘These are very small numbers,’ Dr Daniel Hsia, an associate professor at Pennington, told CNN.
‘We’re a single hospital, but we think that we may be a microcosm of what’s happening across the country.’
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.2 million Americans – about 10.5 percent of the population – suffers from diabetes.
Diabetes occurs when there are too few beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin or when they produce very little insulin, the hormone needed to get glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
When left untreated, diabetes can result in serious health complications such as kidney damage, eye damage, heart disease, stroke and even vision loss.
The CDC says young children and teens almost never got type 2 diabetes, and now about 23,000 have the condition.
For the study, presented at the 81st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, the team looked at data from Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.
They looked at the hospitalization rate for new cases of onset type 2 diabetes in kids.
In 2019, researchers found the rate was 0.27 percent or eight cases out of 2,964 hospitalizations.
The very following year, in 2020, the rate jumped to 0.62 percent of 17 cases out of 2,729 hospitalizations
What’s more, children admitted to the hospital in 2020 were more likely to have severe diabetes than children admitted in 2019.
Symptoms of their condition included higher blood glucose, more dehydration and higher levels pf A1C, which is a marker of blood sugar.
In 2020, eight children were admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) for diabetic ketoacidosis, which is when the body starts breaking down fat at a much too fast rate and doesn’t have enough insulin, compared to three in 2019.
Additionally, two children had to be placed in ICUs for hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome, which occurs when blood glucose is too high for too long, in comparison with zero children in 2019.
The team believes there are several reasons for the spike including lockdowns and stay-at-home orders brought about by the pandemic leading to lack of exercise, poor diets, weight gain, disturbed sleep and overall sedentary behavior.
‘The little weight changes and small amounts of weight gain can certainly tip the scale and cause someone to develop type 2 diabetes,’ Hsia told CNN.