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March 7, 2004

Genetics and Heredity, Other Illnesses

Question from Greensboro, North Carolina, USA:

Is there a relationship between myasthenia gravis and type 1 diabetes? My husband's family has had both. Should we be concerned about those with type 1 developing myasthenia gravis? My 19 month old son, my husband, and his great uncle all have type 1 and my husband's father was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis when he was about 50.

Answer:

Both myasthenia gravis and type 1 diabetes are autoimmune disorders. It is extremely rare for very young children to have myasthenia, however, but there would be more commonality re: family history for these types of disorders. It is the same for thyroiditis, celiac disease, adrenal insufficiency and several other conditions like lupus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Thyroid and celiac are sufficiently common in youngsters with type 1 diabetes. Most of us routinely screen with current blood antibody tests but there is controversy over how often to screen, whether or not to screen etc.

SB