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June 24, 2008

Genetics and Heredity, Other

Question from Overland Park, Kansas, USA:

My three-year-old son was born with hypothyroidism and my five-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age three. Our endocrinologist sees both boys and when asked, said that the two diseases are not related. My 35-year-old husband recently found that he has an extremely low testosterone level. After three months of topical treatment, his testosterone level still remains lower than normal. Is there a chance that these three conditions are related/genetic since they all involve the endocrine system?


I suspect that all three are unrelated. Congenital hypothyroidism is considered a developmental problem and likely with a genetic basis that is different than the autoimmune attack of type 1 diabetes. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the autoimmune version of thyroid disorders; Hashimoto’s co-exists with type 1 diabetes in about 20 to 40% of kids. Low testosterone levels are most likely unrelated to either condition although there are some rare autoimmune versions of low testosterone or low pituitary states. The bottom line is that these are likely three separate conditions. The good news is that all three are well known, well recognized and with known treatment that works!