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January 9, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Boise, Idaho, USA:

Our seven year old son, who has Down's syndrome and Graves' disease, is behaving badly (edgy), eating/drinking constantly, not sleeping at all, and has lost five pounds in two months. On a hunch, I borrowed a blood glucose meter from my neighbor who has diabetes and his blood sugar is crazy (from 80 to 232 mg/dl [4.4 to 12.9 mmol/L]). Is this common with Graves disease? Is this common with Down syndrome? Is it totally unrelated? No one seems to be able to tell us why he has such extreme mood swings, headaches, etc.

Answer:

It sounds like your son may have diabetes. Diabetes is more common in kids and adults with Down’s syndrome and is an autoimmune disorder like many kinds of thyroid problems.

You should talk to your son’s endocrinologist and set about some detailed blood glucose monitoring to decide how to proceed so that he does not get very sick, dehydrated, etc. None of what you describe is normal, so please do not wait.

SB