Scientists are warning that Covid-19 could cause Type 1 diabetes in children - these are the signs and symptoms to look out for

These are the signs and symptoms to look out for (Photo: Shutterstock)These are the signs and symptoms to look out for (Photo: Shutterstock)
These are the signs and symptoms to look out for (Photo: Shutterstock)

Parents are being warned to be aware of Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms in their kids after scientists claim that coronavirus could be linked to a rise in the number of children being diagnosed with the condition.

This is everything parents need to know - and what to look out for.

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Coronavirus linked to rise in children with Type 1 diabetes

A new study, led by clinicians at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and researchers at Imperial College London, warns that Covid-19 could be linked to a recent rise in the number of children being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

The number of children diagnosed with the condition across hospitals in north west London doubled during the peak of the pandemic, in comparison to numbers at the same time last year.

The study states that “the coronavirus spike protein might be able to attack and destroy insulin making cells in the pancreas”, much like Type 1 diabetes.

While the authors of the study state that “more research is needed”, the study shows that “there was a significant rise in cases [of Type 1 diabetes] at the peak of the pandemic [which] suggests that it is plausible that there is a link between some cases of new-onset diabetes in children and COVID-19”.

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Rebecca Unsworth, joint first author of the study at Imperial College London, said: “Type one diabetes can be managed through insulin injections.

“However, children can become very unwell if the disease is not recognised and treated early. It is always important to be aware of early symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.”

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children

The NHS states that “Type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on quickly, particularly in children”.

The symptoms that the NHS says to look out for are:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Thrush that keeps coming back
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts and grazes that aren’t healing

You should contact the doctor if you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms.

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When you go to the doctor, your GP will do a urine test and might check your blood sugar level as well.

If diabetes is suspected, you’ll be advised to go to hospital for an assessment.

At the hospital, you’ll stay there until you get blood test results, which is usually the same day.

How to treat Type 1 diabetes

There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, and it’s not linked to age or being overweight - that’s type two diabetes - so it can only be managed with the use of insulin.

If you’re diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you would need daily injections of insulin to keep your blood sugar levels under control.