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September 1, 2001

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Syracuse, New York, USA:

I have four children with diabetes and suspect my fifth (18 months old) will have it, but at present he seems to be making too much insulin. He has a low energy level during the day, but sleeps very little (10 hours total). My five year old, who has had diabetes since he was two, also has a very low energy level, and sleeps around eight hours. Both children are given time and an environment conducive to much more sleep than they seem to want. Has there ever been any correlation to sleeplessness and blood sugar levels? Could any of this be hormonal?

Answer:

If your eldest four children all have type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes, which is by far the most common form in Caucasian families, then I would be more impressed by the story of ‘a very low energy level’ than by the likelihood of an associated sleep disorder. This suggests the possibility of hypothyroidism which is another autoimmune disorder quite commonly associated with diabetes in the Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome, Type II. It is very easy to test for, so much so that the test is routine in some clinics and treatment is simple; undiagnosed, however, it may lead to growth retardation.

DOB