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What does COVID-19 mean for type 1 diabetes?

Wednesday September 23rd 2020

The pandemic has led to new patients with type 1 diabetes presenting with increasingly severe symptoms, a European conference will hear today.

The effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on people with type 1 diabetes are being examined at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Professor Catarina Limbert, at the University Centre of Central Lisbon, Portugal, and colleagues looked at aspects of the epidemic of specific importance to type 1 diabetes.

Her team found that type 1 diabetes is a risk factor for severe SARS-CoV2 infection, but only among older people. Children, adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes are not at a raised risk.

The team also found that SARS-CoV2 infection can contribute to the new onset of type 1 diabetes.

Findings are presented online today (23 September). Professor Limbert said: “The COVID-19 crisis has increased the severity at onset of type 1 diabetes with a doubling of people being admitted with diabetic ketoacidosis during the lockdown."

Diabetes care management has changed due to the epidemic, she adds. "The COVID-19 crisis was the booster shot to put telemedicine into practice," she said.

“During the lockdown period, health care delivery had to adapt and make a sudden transition to remote care. The use of remote health care promoted autonomy of both young people and their parents in interpreting the data and making decisions."

Also presented at the online meeting today is a study on type 1 diabetes by Dr Federico Boscari and colleagues at the University of Padova, Italy.

They looked at blood sugar level control in patients who stopped working during lockdown, and found an improvement, “despite reduced opportunities for exercise and heightened psychological stress”.

The team used information from 33 people with flash glucose monitoring devices, which send real-time blood glucose levels to the clinic.

Among the patients who stopped working, “overall glycaemic control improved during the first seven days of lockdown as compared to the weeks before,” say the researchers.

They suggest that patients had more time to focus on diabetes control and a more regular lifestyle, including the timing and composition of meals.

Findings presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) annual meeting, held online.

* A second study at another European conference links low levels of zinc to increased risk of death among those infected with the virus.

Spanish researchers reported their findings to the special conference of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious diseases on coronavirus diseases.

Researchers studied some 249 patients in Barcelona, of whom 21 lost their lives.

Researcher Dr Roberto Güerri-Fernández, from Hospital Del Mar, Barcelona, said: "Lower zinc levels at admission correlate with higher inflammation in the course of infection and poorer outcome. Plasma zinc levels at admission are associated with mortality in COVID-19 in our study. Further studies are needed to assess the therapeutic impact of this association."


Tags: Diabetes | Diet & Food | Europe | Flu & Viruses

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