A top paediatric endocrinology expert has issued top tips to the parents of children who have type 1 diabetes amid COVID-19.

Dr Michael Yafi, associate professor at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has also shared insights into how coronavirus may impact people with the autoimmune condition.

He said: “Severe impacts of COVID-19 will depend on diabetes control. If a child has good control of their diabetes, it does not seem as though there will be severe effects if they were to get the virus. However, children with poorly controlled diabetes are at a high risk of becoming severely ill if they were to get the virus.”

If left untreated, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of health complications.

Dr Yafi said treating viral infections such as COVID-19 can be more challenging among people who have considerably high blood sugar levels.

He said: “The exact cause of severe outcomes in patients with diabetes and COVID-19 is not yet known, but research suggests that people who have diabetes have weakened immune systems, which can impact their ability to quickly heal from an infection or disease.”

There are concerns among the medical profession that the long-term effects of COVID-19 may cause diabetes.

Dr Yafi said: “We know from the history of diabetes that there is a cross-reaction of viral infections and getting diabetes. We also know that the previous SARS-COV virus might have triggered an immune response in patients, like onset diabetes.

“However, that is still to be determined because we do not have any global epidemiological information about the association between diabetes and previous COVID-19 infection.”

To help parents protect their children from COVID-19 Dr Yafi recommends:

  • Children should keep washing their hands thoroughly
  • Avoid touching their face
  • Avoid unnecessary large gatherings and practice social distancing
  • Frequently clean commonly used areas around the house
  • Maintain a record of a child’s blood glucose levels
  • Have extra supplies on hand in case of emergency
  • Ensure children have a healthy diet and exercise regularly

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