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September 4, 2001

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Coppell, Texas, USA:

Although there are no known cases of type 1 diabetes on either my husband's side of the family or mine, our two year old son was diagnosed with it a year ago. There are other autoimmune diseases that run in our family (Graves' Disease and Guillain Barre syndrome). Are these autoimmune diseases in any way connected to diabetes?

Answer:

Type 1A diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and so is associated with other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease and coeliac disease. The fact that your family has an increased prevalence of autoimmune disease makes the risk of your child developing diabetes a little higher than in the rest of the population.

JS