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November 16, 2004

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Question from Natick, Massachusetts, USA:

I am looking for information regarding autistic children and diabetes. My seven year old son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified/Autism) and also has type 1 diabetes. I have noticed that when he is frustrated or has autistic related mood swings, his blood sugar readings are high. I know that stress can cause high blood sugar levels, and it seems that his autism affects his diabetes and vise versa. Have there been any studies of how autism affects diabetes?

Answer:

I do not know of specific studies about children with both autism and diabetes. I have several such patients. I suspect that you are correct that this is a non-specific stress response, most likely mediated through adrenaline and cortisol responses, both stress related hormones that would also raise blood glucose levels. Keeping detailed blood glucose records during such episodes will help you sort this out. Also, review your observation with your diabetes team since they can provide much more specific information and advice.

SB