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July 29, 2002

Other Illnesses

Question from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA:

At her last checkup, my three year old daughter (who has type 1 diabetes) showed a dramatic gain in height, but she was still below the 10% range for weight on growth chart. So, her endocrinologist requested a blood test to check for celiac disease which showed antibodies, but they need the biopsy to confirm. Is this also an autoimmune condition? Does a person with an autoimmune disease run the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases?

Answer:

Your daughter’s endocrinologist is very much up to the mark because the celiac syndrome could indeed account for the poor weight gain. It is another autoimmune condition that occurs in around 8% of children with type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes. Not all need to go on a gluten free diet; it rather depends on the biopsy.

By far the most common associated condition is hypothyroidism, and I would guess that the doctor has already tested for this. There are a number of other linked entities, though the only fairly common one, about 2%, shows anti 21 hydroxylase antibodies and indicates a possible adrenocortical problem.

DOB