Presently, data shows that children, adolescents and young adults with well-managed endocrine conditions, such as diabetes, are not at increased risk of getting infected or becoming severely ill with the coronavirus. However, poorly controlled diabetes can weaken their immunity and thereby increase the risk of getting infected. There are some indications that otherwise healthy, but severely obese children are at increased risk of a more complicated lung infection due to COVID-19. New data is becoming available each day about the virus, but in the meantime, parents and caregivers of children with endocrine conditions are advised to be vigilant about preventative measures and to strictly adhere to their provider’s instructions.
How to prevent the infection:
- Children should wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or clean hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Maintain social distancing (distance of 6 feet or more).
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.
- Avoid touching their face, eyes, and nose.
- Don’t share food, drinks, utensils, towels, etc.
- Parents need to sanitize surfaces in the home frequently, especially kitchen and bathroom areas.
In general, when a child with diabetes develops a viral infection, it can make their blood sugar levels more challenging to regulate leading to complications such as hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If your child has any COVID-19 symptoms (fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing) call his/her provider as soon as possible.
At CareMount Medical, our offices are open and we have taken every precaution and followed all the protocols for safety and sanitization instated by the CDC and NY State Department of Health. We are providing parents the option of either an in-office visit or a virtual visit, so that children can see their own personal, trusted pediatrician online. If you’re uncertain about what to do, call your provider’s office and discuss your child’s situation. If your child is scheduled for any in-office medical testing, it is necessary to continue with your appointment without delay. In addition, please involve your child’s pediatric endocrinologist early if you are experiencing difficulty in regulating blood sugar levels. At CareMount Medical, our pediatric endocrinologists are available for virtual visits to aid in insulin dose regulation during your child’s illness for established patients with diabetes.
How to control your child’s diabetes if he/she has COVID-19:
Follow your endocrinologist’s advice and recommendations. In general, you will be asked to:
- Monitor blood glucose and ketone (blood or urine) levels more closely. Aim for a blood glucose level between 70-180 mg/dL.
- Do not stop insulin. If your child has a fever, your provider may increase the dosage.
- Monitor and maintain hydration with adequate salt and water balance.
- Treat underlying illnesses and symptoms (fever).
If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms below, urgent care is needed. Contact your endocrinologist immediately:
- Fever, vomiting and/or weight loss.
- Fruity breath odor with elevated blood or urine ketones despite extra insulin and hydration.
- Your child or adolescent is becoming exhausted, confused, hyperventilating, or has severe abdominal pain.
These are challenging times for all families. It’s important to keep your child healthy and safe, but also make sure he/she is engaged, social, eating healthy meals, exercising, getting enough sleep, and making time to enjoy activities together!
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD); International Diabetes Federation