How Pandemic Lockdowns Affected Those With Type 1 Diabetes

According to US News, children living with type 1 diabetes exhibited improved blood sugar levels during Britain's first national COVID-19 lockdown. This study documented the way 180 children, including teens, in two United Kingdom communities controlled their type 1 diabetes for 12 weeks prior to the lockdown, and compared those findings with 12 weeks of data collected during the lockdown. 

Researchers saw a significant improvement in blood glucose levels in the 12 weeks after the lockdown, when the children were forced to stay home, compared with the 12 weeks before the pandemic, when they were in school and participating in social events. The study found a considerable drop in both the average blood sugar levels as well as the long-term blood sugar levels.

According to lead researcher Neil Lawrence, M.B.Ch.B., of Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Sheffield, United Kingdom, "Children and families found it easier to manage this disease when they were forced to stay at home. This helps us to understand the pressure that is put on patients and families when trying to live normal busy lives with activities outside of the home." 

Easier to make better choices at home

In regard to his study, Dr. Lawrence states, "The findings demonstrate the difficulties faced by patients and families managing type 1 diabetes around school pressures, meals away from home, social life and peer pressure." He goes on to say that, "Managing type 1 diabetes around school, socializing and extra-curricular activities is really challenging, and children with this disease need parents, teachers, and other caregivers to communicate well and work as a team to prevent long-term health complications that are caused by poor blood glucose control."

The improvements in sugar levels during lockdown were not only limited to children living with type 1 diabetes, as a separate study of 63 type 1 diabetic adults showed improved glycemic control during the lockdown. Furthermore, the research found that glucose levels improved immediately upon lockdown and remained improved through its entirety. The researchers speculated on reasons for the improvements, including that, due to the lockdown, more meals were being homemade, which can contain fewer calories and carbohydrates than those provided at restaurants, and they can be easier to track, too.