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Going Back to School with Type 1 Diabetes

Even though lockdown restrictions have been lifted for several weeks in Quebec, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. For now, it looks like the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations is remaining stable.

The pandemic has severely disrupted our daily lives, as well as those of children and teenagers. Over the summer, children were able to go to day camp, and in September, everyone will be able to go back to school… many parents are worried.

Are children at a higher risk of complications?

No. The data is fairly straightforward. As of August 23, 2020, 3.3% of confirmed cases in Quebec were children under 10 years of age, and no individual under 20 years of age had been hospitalized due to COVID-19.

In fact, children don’t appear to develop a serious form of the illness and present with minor symptoms.

What about children and adults living with type 1 diabetes?

The available data on this specific population is not as clear, and there is very little data on children. A study led in Belgium concluded that there was no evidence that adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) were at a higher risk of being hospitalized due to COVID-19. In the United States, one study found just the opposite: half of adults with T1D who contracted COVID-19 had to be hospitalized. So, it’s still too early to draw any firm conclusion. 

Generally, people with T1D who contract any virus (cold, flu, gastroenteritis, etc.) are at a higher risk for complications and hospitalization. All viruses can cause an inflammatory response, which in turn increases the risk for diabetic ketoacidosis. You will find tools to help you manage ketone bodies HERE.

One thing that is clear is that people with T1D, when blood glucose levels are in good control, don’t seem to be at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

What if a parent has T1D?

According to a Swiss study, children are not good vectors of COVID-19. In other words, even though they carry the same viral load as adults, children don’t transmit the illness as effectively. However, at this stage, several studies report contradictory results regarding children and their COVID-19 contagiousness.

In the end, it’s up to parents to decide whether to send their children back to school or not.

Here are some back-to-school tools from organizations in Quebec and Canada to help parents of children with T1D make an informed decision.

The BETTER team wishes you a good back-to-school season, despite these exceptional circumstances!

References

  • Données COVID-19 au Québec. (n.d.). Retrieved August 6, 2020, from https://www.inspq.qc.ca/covid-19/donnees
  • Half of Those With Type 1 Diabetes and COVID-19 Manage at Home. (June 11, 2020). Retrieved August 6, 2020, from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/932175
  • Posfay-Barbe, K. M., Wagner, N., Gauthey, M., Moussaoui, D., Loevy, N., Diana, A., and L’huillier, A. G. (2020). COVID-19 in Children and the Dynamics of Infection in Families. Pediatrics, 146(2). doi:10.1542/peds.2020-1576
  • ‘Should My Kid With T1D Go Back to School?’ (July 24, 2020). Retrieved August 6, 2020, from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/934466
  • Vangoitsenhoven, R., Martens, P., Nes, F. V., Moyson, C., Nobels, F., Crombrugge, P. V., . . . Mathieu, C. (2020). No Evidence of Increased Hospitalization Rate for COVID-19 in Community-Dwelling Patients With Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, Dc201246. doi:10.2337/dc20-1246
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