Study finds that one in 20 people newly diagnosed with diabetes had Covid-19 infection.

A new study has looked into whether a previous Covid-19 infection could be linked to new cases of diabetes being diagnosed.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada found that a Covid-19 infection was associated with a higher risk of developing diabetes, suggesting that these infections may have contributed to an excess burden of diabetes at the population level.

The study involved 629,935 individuals tested for Covid-19 and found that the incident of diabetes was significantly higher among individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 infection than those who tested negative. The fraction of incident of new diabetes cases linked to Covid-19 infection was 3% to 5% - representing one in 20.

The results were recently published in JAMA Network Open and included findings on cases of type 1 or type 2 diabetes identified more than 30 days after a Covid-19 infection, based on hospital records and prescribed medications.

Study author Professor Naveed Janjua at the University of British Columbia, said: “Given the large number of people infected with Covid-19, these excess diabetes cases could translate into very large population level burden of diabetes which could strain already stretched healthcare systems.

“This highlights the importance of healthcare organisations and medical professionals being mindful of the possible long-term outcomes of Covid-19. It may be important to monitor individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 for diabetes, especially those who had more severe disease during the acute phase of infection, as early detection and treatment can be critical in managing diabetes. In addition, diet and physical activity may help in controlling diabetes risk.”

A healthcare professional writing notes in protective clothes

The research provides the latest evidence that the pandemic could be contributing to a rise in new cases of diabetes where people who have experienced more severe Covid-19 at greatest risk.

In the UK there are 4.3 million officially diagnosed cases and in the case of type 2 diabetes the main causes are lifestyle factors to do with being overweight or obese.

Researchers concluded: “We found that Covid-19 infection was associated with a higher risk of incident diabetes overall and among males and that severe disease was associated with a higher risk of diabetes among males and females. These results suggest that infection with Covid-19 may have contributed to a 3% to 5% excess burden of diabetes, which may be associated with a substantial number of diabetes cases with bearing on health care needs for the management of diabetes and its complications.

“Our study highlights the importance of health agencies and clinicians being aware of the potential long-term consequences of Covid-19 and monitoring people after Covid-19 infection for new-onset diabetes for timely diagnosis and treatment.”

Read the report in JAMA Network Open

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