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April 8, 2006

Celiac, Other

Question from Sugar Land, Texas, USA:

My niece was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two weeks ago. My sister has been trying very hard to keep her daughter's glucose levels under control, but they are fluctuating from the 50s to the 400s mg/dl [2.8 to 25.5 mmol/L]. She is very frustrated because she has been following the doctor's recommendations very closely. They have an appointment with a dietitian and will be working out another meal plan to help control it better. My sister has many, many questions and is overwhelmed. I have referred her to your Ask the Diabetes Team section of this web site to help her with some of her questions. She has been so busy taking care of her daughter's daily needs and meeting with her teachers, etc. so she really has not had time to search the Internet for answers. According to my sister, her daughter's hair seems to be falling out and thinning. Is this because her body is lacking nutrients or is it stress related? Also, do doctors routinely test newly diagnosed type 1 diabetics for celiac disease?

Answer:

Coping with a new diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming for anyone. I would definitely suggest that she visit with a good counselor for some coping strategies. It is very common for a child that is newly diagnosed to continue to have blood sugars that can be difficult to control and seem to change rapidly. Your diabetes educator might be your best resource for advice about dosing changes and advice about how to avoid rapidly fluctuating blood sugars.

Invariably, within about four weeks, taking care of the diabetes becomes seems much more “normal” as parents and children become more comfortable with all of the daily decisions that need to be made. However, talking with a counselor is a great idea in the meantime.

In my practice, I screen for celiac disease every three years, including at the time of diagnosis. Hair falling out is not typical of kids with diabetes. You may wish to visit with your pediatrician for a more thorough look at that.

MSB

[Editor’s comment: We have previously answered other questions about hair loss. Please use those specific terms to search through the previous questions in the Ask the Diabetes Team section of our web site.

BH]