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Experts will explain how viruses, including COVID-19, affect pediatric diabetes risk


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2 minutes

During a mini-symposium at the 81st Scientific Sessions, three experts will explore how recent advances will shape the understanding of the role viruses play in autoimmune disease processes. The presenters will discuss associations discovered during the novel coronavirus pandemic and established associations guiding work in the field.

The session, COVID-19 and Beyond—Viruses in Pediatric Diabetes, will begin at 12:45 p.m. ET on Friday, June 25.

Kendra Vehik, PhD, MPH
Kendra Vehik, PhD, MPH

“In the one-hour mini-symposium, we’ll be able to give a glimpse on how viruses over time have impacted pediatric diabetes risk, as well as highlight how COVID-19 is impacting new-onset pediatric diabetes, its complications, and behavioral interventions,” said Kendra Vehik, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist and Professor at the Health Informatics Institute at the University of South Florida.

In the past few decades, large pediatric perspective studies have demonstrated that many viruses are involved in the autoimmune process of type 1 diabetes and have helped identify the relationship between viruses and the risk of islet autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes. Dr. Vehik will discuss the most recent insights moving the field toward more integrative approaches to better understand the interplay of viruses, genetics, and the human immune system.

“The age at the time of your infection and the duration of the infection affect the risk of autoimmunity,” she said. “The relationship between viruses, genetic background, and the immune system are all involved in this autoimmune process that leads to disease.”

New research into how different viruses may work together over time to modify risks of overall islet autoimmunity is forthcoming, including insight into how viruses may modify the risk of autoimmune phenotypes specific to type 1 diabetes, Dr. Vehik added.

Pediatric endocrinologist Mary Pat Gallagher, MD, will discuss the epidemiology of COVID-19 and pediatric diabetes. She is Director of the Robert I. Grossman, MD and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD Pediatric Diabetes Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Carrie Tully, PhD, a pediatric psychologist and Assistant Professor at Children’s National Health System, will address behavioral interventions for pediatric patients with diabetes in the midst of COVID-19.

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