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December 25, 1999


Question from New Hartford, Connecticut, USA:

My 5 year old child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 2 years ago. At his recent physical, his physician noticed that my child's thyroid was enlarged and suggested a blood test. Please advise me what to expect from a positive blood test result. Is this a complication common in a diabetic who has only had the disease for 2 years? What type of treatment is available and the side effects of having an enlarged thyroid?


An enlarged thyroid gland may be the first signs of the thyroid becoming either overactive or underactive. Just as diabetes in children is nearly always an autoimmune disease, autoimmune thyroiditis [thyroid inflammation] can also occur but less commonly. Probably 2-5% of children with diabetes are at risk of developing hypothyroidism, and this can occur at any time. It is relatively easy to treat with thyroid tablets. You should talk it over with your endocrine team.

Another common cause of thyroid problems, but not related to diabetes or autoimmune disease, is due to iodine deficiency.