Hospitalization rates for children with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes more than doubled during the pandemic, two hospitals reported at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, held virtually this year.
At Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, children with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes accounted for 0.62% of inpatients from March through December 2020, up from 0.27% the year before.
Those numbers are low, “but just the fact that this rate has more than doubled over the past year is…significant,” said Dr. Daniel Hsia of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
Children hospitalized in 2020 had more severe diabetes, with higher blood sugar and more dehydration, than children admitted in the prior year, he said.
At Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, cases of new-onset type 2 diabetes in children increased 233% from 2019 to 2020 – and the children were sicker than in previous years, a separate team reported.
Most of these children at both hospitals had not previously had COVID-19.
Social distancing measures may have kept children from having regular physical activity and contributed to weight gain, and also kept parents from taking them for routine medical care, all of which may have contributed to more severe illness, researchers speculated.
“Our study reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for children even under such difficult circumstances” Hsia said in a statement.