Youth-onset type 2 diabetes incidence increased 77 percent during COVID-19 pandemic

Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels

A new study has found that cases of new youth-onset type 2 diabetes (T2D) increased by 77.2 percent in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, compared with reported cases from the previous two years.

The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, was led by Sheela Magge, MD, MSCE, of the Johns Hopkins Hospital/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes in Baltimore, Maryland. For the investigation, researchers aimed to better quantify how the pandemic effected new cases of youth-onset type 2 diabetes.  

“In the spring of 2020 we were inundated with new youth-onset type 2 diabetes cases,” said the study’s corresponding author, Megan Kelsey, MD, MS, of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus/Children’s Hospital Colorado in a statement. “We were used to seeing 50 to 60 new cases per year and that increased to more than 100 new cases in a year. Colleagues at other institutions were seeing the same thing, so we gathered a team of researchers to evaluate the frequency and severity of new cases during the first year of the pandemic compared to the mean of the prior two years.”

After conducting a multicenter, hospital-based retrospective chart review of 3,113 youth, the results showed new cases of youth-onset T2D cases increased by 77.2 percent during the first year of the pandemic, 2020, compared to the previous two years. Of the patients analyzed, 50.5 percent were female, 40.4 percent were Hispanic, 32.7 percent were Black, and 14.5 percent were non-Hispanic white. In addition, researchers found that the metabolic decompensation and severe diabetic ketoacidosis in new youth-onset T2D cases increased significantly during the first year of the pandemic.

According to the study, further studies are needed to determine the precise causes of this spike in youth-onset T2D cases as well as whether the case numbers will continue to rise in the following years.