Children with type 1 diabetes can require hospitalization with COVID, largely due to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Dr. Catherina Pinnaro

An important question during the COVID-19 pandemic has been whether children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes have increased risk of severe COVID-19. Dr. Pinnaro from our Division was one of a group of pediatric endocrinologist across the country who sought to help answer this important question. Their findings have now been published in the Journal of Diabetes (link to article). Briefly, they found that children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes who developed COVID-19 were at roughly 20% risk of being hospitalized while infected. Importantly, however, the cause of hospitalization was typically related to diabetes, less so than due to severe manifestations of COVID-19 such as lung dysfunction. Diabetes ketoacidosis was the most frequent cause of hospitalization. This is not uncharted territory, because a variety of viral infections can also precipitate a variety of diabetes emergencies, including ketoacidosis , leading to hospitalization. Also importantly, it appears that type 1 diabetes does not strongly increase the risk of severe COVID. For youth with type 1 diabetes who developed COVID-19, the basics of sick day management become important, including glucose and ketone checking, supplemental insulin when needed, and copious fluids, just as with any infection. Please know that our group of diabetes nurses and doctors remain available 24/7 to assist with sick days. Join us in thanking Dr. Pinnaro for her hard work and research.

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