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October 9, 2002

Other

Question from the United Kingdom:

My 12 year old son has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I have Graves' disease. What is the connection? I am also trying for a baby with my new partner who has an underactive thyroid. What are the genetic risks for the baby?

Answer:

Some diseases are more common if you have diabetes. hyperthyroidism (Graves disease) or hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) are examples of so called autoimmune diseases in which the immune system is involved. Because type 1 diabetes is in part a hereditary disease, it is also more common both for the person with diabetes and others family members to have other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease, celiac disease, and adrenal insufficiency. You can read a lot of previous answers to this topic on this website.

MS

[Editor’s comment: It’s difficult to judge the risk to a future child of having an autoimmune disorder, in part because it’s unclear if your partner has an autoimmune process that caused his hypothyroidism. Perhaps a discussion with a genetics counselor would be helpful.

WWQ]