CLEVELAND (WJW) – Kids who were infected with COVID-19 are showing a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes, according to a recent study.

The study, published Friday in the JAMA Network Open journal by researchers with Case Western Reserve University, looked into electronic health records of patients under 18.

The study found that, among over 571,000 pediatric patients, 123 were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within six months of having COVID.

That’s compared to the 72 patients newly diagnosed after a non-COVID respiratory infection.

There was a 72% increase in diagnoses in COVID patients. Researchers emphasize that it’s not clear if COVID triggers a new onset of type 1 diabetes.

“[Type 1 diabetes] occurs mostly because the body’s immune defenses attack the cells that produce insulin, thereby stopping insulin production and causing the disease. COVID has been suggested to increase autoimmune responses, and our present finding reinforces that suggestion,” said Case Western professor and researcher Pamela Davis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 187,000 people under 20 years old live with type 1 diabetes in the U.S.

“Families with high risk of type 1 diabetes in their children should be especially alert for symptoms of diabetes following COVID,” said Davis. “We may see a substantial increase in this disease in the coming months to years.”

Researchers are also looking into the development of type 2 diabetes in kids after a COVID infection.