November 14, 2000
Research: Causes and Prevention
Question from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA:
My six year old son was diagnosed two years ago with type 1 diabetes. Around the same time, he began showing signs of geographic tongue, a rare disorder the cause of which is unknown. I understand there are theories as to the possible cause of geographic tongue including repeated biting of one's tongue during seizures, anemia, Pellagra, Hartnup disease, and I also saw a reference to diabetes mellitus under possible causes. To my knowledge, my son has had only one possible mild seizure which occurred seven months ago. I received my information about geographic tongue from the National Organization of Rare Disorders. Could there be a relationship between my son's two conditions?
There does indeed seem to be a link between Type�1 diabetes and Benign Migratory Glossitis. If you search PubMed under “Geographic Tongue and Diabetes”, you will find a number of reports. The only remotely recent one was by Wysocki GP in Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol in 1978, Vol 63, p68. As I read this, it seems that in the days before HLA antigen typing had become quite as sophisticated as it is now, this link was ascribed to a shared locus on the short arm of chromosome 6, but the absence of any later work suggests the genetic link was wrong and that there was some other cause for the relationship.