Increased incidence of Type 1 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic is not a direct effect of recent COVID-19 infection
A recent publication in the journal Diabetes Care from Professor Helen Colhoun and Professor Paul McKeigue's groups, reports that although the incidence of type 1 diabetes rose sharply among young persons during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic that this was not a direct effect of COVID-19 infection itself.
The paper shows that other aspects of the pandemic may have led to the increase including altered patterns of social mixing changing the epidemiology of other infections implicated in type 1 diabetes. The study linked data on all COVID-19 infections in Scotland to the Scottish diabetes register, SCI-Diabetes, using e-health record linkage.
Previous reports have suggested that COVID-19 infection can directly cause type 1 diabetes leading to anxiety and concern among patients and diabetes charities.
However Professor Colhoun suggests that “the exact timing of diabetes in relation to COVID-19 infection could not be properly discerned in those studies. The comprehensive health record system in Scotland allowed us to pinpoint this precisely - we found that there was no evidence that COVID-19 infection itself led to diabetes – instead it is clear that there was simply more testing for, and incidental detection of, COVID-19 around the time of onset of type 1 diabetes.”
“At the same time we found that there was a 20% increase in type 1 diabetes incidence in younger people in the first year of the pandemic that is likely due to altered social mixing disrupting the epidemiology of other infections implicated in type 1 diabetes.”
Publication in Diabetes Care https://doi.org/10.2337/dc22-0385
Professor Helen Colhoun's webpage
Professor Paul McKeigue's webpage