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October 20, 2001

Other Illnesses, Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Mansfield Center, Connecticut, USA:

About two weeks ago, I noticed that my 19 month old daughter (diagnosed about two months ago) has oral thrush. I have four children and haven't dealt with this before, so I did a little research about it. I read in the book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" that diabetes can be a result of a candida albicans infection. I read in the Pink Panther book that people with diabetes are more prone to this infection due to high sugar levels. In one book it said that candida affects usually weak, sick babies, or the elderly or others who are immunocompromised. What do you know about candida and diabetes? Can an infection that has gone on for awhile cause the immune system to malfunction and lead to Type 1A diabetes? Is it that because she has diabetes, she is more prone to candida infections? She is still nursing quite a bit, and I do not have any symptoms of candida infection.

Answer:

With high blood glucose, candida infections seem more common especially in the diaper region. Also, mouth candida occurs in many children, but I’m not sure that it occurs in the mouth more with diabetes. I would wonder if you might not be carrying the candida on your skin and your daughter gets it when she nurses.

LD
Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:

Yeast thrive in an area that is warm, dark, and moist and especially where there is food (sugar). Therefore, most likely the presence of the high glucose levels with diabetes has led to the yeast infections. While poorly controlled folks with diabetes, frail babies, and elderly can have compromised immune systems that can predispose to yeast infections, the autoimmunity of type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes likely is not the same thing as having a deficient immune system.

There are more diffuse autoimmune disorders (sometimes called Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome) that can be associated with recurrent skin and mucous membrane candidal infections. The other associations can include autoimmune thyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency, and certain bowel inflammations (like celiac disease). Often these more serious and diffuse autoimmune problems that are associated with candidal infections are associated with low calcium levels due to problems with parathyroid hormone.

While this answer may provoke anxiety, these polyglandular disorders would be less likely in a 19 month old. The most likely explanation is simply the higher glucose of diabetes has caused the right environment for the yeast to thrive.

DS