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May 23, 2006

Behavior, Mental Health

Question from Woburn, Massachusetts, USA:

My seven year old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes less than two years ago. She also has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease and ADHD. Since her diabetes diagnosis, she has suffered from suicidal thoughts, aggression, impulsivity and mood swings. I have the following questions:

Is there any known correlation between the autoimmune diseases she has and levels of lithium naturally found in the body? It has been suggested that I should request a test to determine if she is lithium deficient.

How is the level of lithium tested?

What is a normal lithium level?


From: DTeam Staff

I doubt there is any connection with the autoimmune problems and depression as long as her diabetes is in control and her thyroiditis treated to normalize thyroid functions, if they are abnormal. Some with celiac, when gluten is not being avoided, can feel pretty miserable but not to the extent that you have described. It would be very important for short term, as well as long term, health to make sure the celiac related antibodies can be normalized. With such severe emotional problems at such an early age, it is unlikely the three autoimmune problems are causative but certainly are added stress factors for your child and your family. I would be suspicious of measuring lithium levels, but she may need lithium as a medication depending upon what symptoms and signs she has. You should be working closely with a good psychiatrist and psychologist since these are all very complicated issues and need coordination with your diabetes and gastrointestinal team as well as mental health professionals.