Chances are you’re a bit COVID-weary and just want to “get on with things.” But this article caught our attention. The Endocrine Society released a report (March 2021) on the risk of COVID-19 related to complications and death in children with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes. A comparison was made to those with well-controlled diabetes. [Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas does not make enough insulin; Insulin shots or wearing an insulin pump are needed to manage blood sugar levels.]
This report includes guidance on virtual versus in-person learning for children with type 1 diabetes, based on the level of control.
New research indicates that children with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes have a 10 times higher risk of COVID-19-related complications and death compared to those with well-controlled diabetes.
The lead author said, “This study shows keeping diabetic children’s blood sugar under control is more important than ever during the pandemic.” “The findings will help children with type 1 diabetes and their families make better choices about the safety of attending school in person and engaging in other in-person activities during this pandemic.”
Some data suggest that adults with type 1 diabetes may have a higher risk of COVID-19 complications and death, but there has been limited research on children. Researchers reviewed data on about 2,000 children with type 1 diabetes and COVID-19, as well as more than 300,000 children with COVID-19 who did not have type 1 diabetes.
The study analyzed hemoglobin A1c levels in the children with diabetes. A1c is a simple blood test that measures a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past three months. It is the main test to help people manage their diabetes. Higher A1c levels are linked to diabetes complications. The goal for most people with diabetes is an A1c level of 7% or less.
In children with A1c levels higher than 9%, the risk of COVID-19 complications was 10 times higher compared with children whose A1c levels were under 7%, indicating well-controlled diabetes. Having type 1 diabetes, in general, puts a child at greater risk of COVID-19 complications.
The authors suggest that “if a child’s 1c is high, it would be best to have them attend virtual school, but if it’s 7% or under, their risk is similar to other children without type 1 diabetes.”