COVID-19 Pandemic Linked to Increased Hospitalization Rates for Children With New Onset Type 2 Diabetes

Initial data show that children presented with higher acuity in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Incidence and acuity of type 2 diabetes in children increased significantly during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a poster presented during the virtual 81st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The data collected from a retrospective chart review show that more pediatric patients were hospitalized from March to December 2020 at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, compared to the same time period in 2019.1

“While our study examined hospital admissions for type 2 diabetes in children at 1 center, the results may be a microcosm of what is happening at other children’s hospitals across the country,” said lead study author Daniel S. Hsia, MD, associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, in a press release.

According to the ADA, there are a lack of data on the incidence or severity of new-onset type 2 diabetes in the pediatric population during the COVID-19 pandemic.1However, stay-at-home orders linked to the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including limited physical activity, increased screen time and sedentary behaviors, disrupted sleep, and increased intake of processed foods, which can all lead to weight gain.2

According to the ADA, a national survey showed that more than 1 in 4 Americans with diabetes reported disruption to their ability to obtain healthy food during the pandemic. Modest weight gain over a short period of time can increase the risk for long-term health consequences, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.2

The data analysis from Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital found the following:1

  • In 2019, the hospitalization rate for new onset type 2 diabetes was 0.27% for 2964 hospitalization cases compared to 0.62% of 2729 in 2020.
  • Children admitted to the hospital in 2020 had more severe diabetes with higher blood glucose, higher A1C, and higher indicators of dehydration compared to children admitted in 2019.
  • More children in 2020 also presented with serious conditions that typically require admission to the intensive care unit compared to 2019, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (8 vs. 3) and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome (2 vs. 0).
  • Twenty-three of 25 children were Black and 19 children were male.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 disrupted our lives in more ways than we realize. Our study reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for children even under such difficult circumstances,” Hsia said in the release.

REFERENCES

  1. New study shows hospitalization rates for new onset pediatric type 2 diabetes doubled during COVID-19 pandemic [news release]. June 25, 2021; ADA. Accessed June 25, 2021. [email]
  2. New data alert: COVID-19 brings crisis of access for millions living with diabetes. ADA. Published December 23, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/COVID-19-brings-crisis-of-access-for-millions-living-with-diabetes