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ADA 2021: Study Finds Hospitalization Rates for New-onset Pediatric T2D Doubled During Pandemic


Data released today at the American Diabetes Association 81st Scientific Sessions on a spike in new onset pediatric T2D at a single center during COVID-19 may signal much wider incidence.

Both incidence and acuity of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in children increased significantly during the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to newly released data.

Findings from a retrospective chart review presented June 25, 2021 as a late-breaking poster session at the virtual 81st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) revealed that more pediatric patients were hospitalized from March to December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Stay-at-home orders instituted in March of 2020 in the US to stem the spread of COVID-19 appear to have exacerbated risk factors for type 2 diabetes (T2D), including weight gain. Lifestyle shifts including limited physical activity, increased screen time and sedentary behaviors, disturbed sleep, and increased consumption of processed foods can all contribute to weight gain. In fact, more than 1 in 4 Americans with diabetes report the pandemic disrupted their ability to obtain healthy food.

The data presented at ADA begin to fill the information void on the incidence or severity of new-onset T2D in the pediatric population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study compared the number and the acuity of hospitalizations for T2D in children from March to December 2019 and the same period in 2020 at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA.

The data analysis showed:

• In 2019, the hospitalization rate for new onset type 2 diabetes was 0.27% (8 cases out of 2,964 hospitalizations) compared to 0.62% (17 out of 2,729) 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 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 zero).

23 of 25 children were African American and 19 children were boys.

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

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