FRIDAY, Oct. 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The increase in incidence of type 1 diabetes among children during the pandemic may not have been caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, according to a study published online Sept. 27 in Diabetes Care to coincide with the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, held from Sept. 19 to 23 in Stockholm.

Noting that studies have reported an increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in association with SARS-CoV-2 infection more than 30 days earlier, Paul M. McKeigue, Ph.D., from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues sought to replicate these findings in a cohort of 1,849,411 individuals aged younger than 35 years without diabetes, who were followed from March 1, 2020, to Nov. 22, 2021.

The researchers identified 365,080 individuals who had at least one detected SARS-CoV-2 infection during follow-up; 1,074 developed type 1 diabetes. The rate ratios for incident type 1 diabetes associated with a first positive SARS-CoV-2 test were 0.86 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.62 to 1.21) and 2.62 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.81 to 3.78) for infection more than 30 days earlier and for infection in the previous 30 days, respectively. In the days surrounding diabetes presentation, negative and positive SARS-CoV-2 tests were more frequent. During 2020 to 2021, the incidence of type 1 diabetes among those aged 0 to 14 years was 20 percent higher than the seven-year average.

“Our findings show that causes other than COVID-19 infection itself need to be considered in relation to the increased incidence of type 1 diabetes,” McKeigue said in a statement. “We need to consider what has happened regarding the spread of viruses such as enteroviruses during the pandemic, and whether there are any other environmental factors, such as sunlight exposure and vitamin D levels, that might have altered during lockdown that might also be relevant.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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