Fact Finders: COVID-19 and new cases of diabetes

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 10:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - You’ve probably heard doctors warn if you have diabetes you may be at a greater risk of a severe case of COVID-19. Now there’s a new question. Could the virus actually be triggering new cases of diabetes?

Some studies, like in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism journal, are looking into that very question. In fact, researchers found out of nearly 4,000 hospitalized patients, almost 15% were newly diagnosed with diabetes. So, is there a true link or is this a case of cause without causality?

Dr. Chetanbabu Patel, a pediatric endocrinologist with Tucson Medical Center, says right now we don’t have enough evidence to say conclusively COVID is causing diabetes. However, he did mention he has seen increased rates of diabetes cases in the last five months. He thinks that might be related to the pandemic in a different way.

“There’s been a lot of kids with type 2 diabetes so that’s probably pandemic related: lack of movement, lack of exercise, being at home, eating, not doing the usual activities of daily living that they usually had with school,” Patel said.

Dr. Patel also says they are looking into the increased number of diabetes cases now but it might be a couple of years of data collecting before we have a better idea of what’s happening.

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