October 29, 2001
Question from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, USA:
At every visit, my daughter’s doctor tells us on that he thinks she is going to develop hypothyroidism because of the size of her thyroid, but every blood test so far has been normal. Is it common for children with diabetes to also develop hypothyroidism?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune endocrine disease that may cluster in the same proband or in the proband’s family with other immune-related diseases such as hypothyroid (Hashimoto’s disease), celiac disease (malabsorption), Addison’s disease, (hypoadrenalism), and multiple sclerosis (nervous damage).
[Editor’s comment: About 20% of children with diabetes develop thyroid disease, where the gland gradually stops functioning.
[Editor’s comment: Early indications that the thyroid gland may be decreasing in function are generalized enlargement of the size of the gland (an enlarged thyroid gland is sometimes called a “goiter”), and/or elevation of a lab test called the TSH. Sometimes, thyroid antibodies are positive before these other findings, and many pediatric endocrinology programs advise annual testing of thyroid antibodies in kids with type 1 diabetes. Fortunately, the last step in progression is the finding of an actual decrease in the levels of the thyroid gland’s hormones, and changes in the body due to the lack of thyroid hormone (such as hair falling out, lack of growth, slow pulse, dry skin, etc.).