Louisiana hospital saw diabetes cases double in children amid pandemic

Cases of type 2 diabetes more than doubled at Baton Rouge, La.-based Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital between March and December 2020, CNN reported June 25. 

During the same period in 2019, the rate was 0.27 percent, or eight cases out of 2,964 hospitalizions. That jumped to 0.62 percent, or 17 cases out of 2,729 hospitalizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're a single hospital, but we think that we may be a microcosm of what's happening across the country," Daniel Hsia, MD, associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge who was part of the study, told CNN

Of those 25 cases, 23 were diagnosed in Black children, the research team said, adding that health disparities have worsened during the pandemic. 

"Risk factors for type two diabetes may worsen even more during a time like this, where they have to stay home, and they don't have access to healthy foods and physical activity, and there are sleep disturbances," Dr. Hsia said.

At the Baton Rouge pediatric hospital, cases of type 2 diabetes that were diagnosed during the pandemic were also more severe than children admitted in 2019, with patients having higher blood sugar levels and more severe dehydration. 

In Los Angeles, some hospitals are also seeing the same trend of children presenting with more severe cases, particularly with ketoacidosis — a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. 

"Historically, in people with type 2 diabetes, the rates vary from 5 to 10 percent in our hospital," Lily Chao, MD, interim medical diabetes director at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told CNN. "In this past year, our rates went up to 20 percent of new type 2 diabetes cases presenting in that severe state."


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