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June 19, 2003

Other Illnesses

Question from Cardiff, South Wales:

Over the last few weeks, my 15 year old son diagnosed about three weeks ago, has been losing a lot of hair. Currently he is on twice daily pre-mixed insulin, and his glucose levels are often still labile, so he is not yet in any real control. However, he says he noticed his loss of hair before he started taking the insulin. His thyroid is okay, and he is taking multivitamins including 100% daily requirement of iron.

I know this question has been asked before, but we are very worried. Although you see answers given to questions such as mine along the lines of “no one actually knows why and that things will get better”, why has no one actually got to the bottom of the cause, its cure and how long it takes for the loss to stop? When we asked our specialist they could only say you won’t find it mentioned in the textbooks.

Do all newly diagnosed people lose hair? If so and it is so common, why don’t the textbooks mention it? If not, has anyone compared their blood, etc. with someone who is not losing hair? What is the cause? How long will it last? How bad will it get? When will it stop?


From: DTeam Staff

I think that your son probably has a condition now known as the Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type II in which a variable number of autoimmune conditions occur together. Diabetes is the most common of these and is very often associated with hypothyroidism. After that comes the celiac syndrome — which incidentally should be tested for routinely by an antiglutamyl transferase antibody test. One of the less common components is alopecia (loss of hair).

The association is fairly uncommon and that is probably why I have not been able to find a detailed report on the duration of the hair loss and the success of treatment. I think you should try to have your son seen by a consultant dermatologist who will know about some of the more recent successful approaches to this problem with immunomodulatory products like anti-TNF alpha. See Skurkovich SV, Skurkovich B, Kelly JA. Anticytokine therapy – new approach to the treatment of autoimmune and cytokine-disturbance diseases. Med Hypotheses. 2002 Nov;59(6):770-80.