September 11, 2007
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Question from South Africa:
My daughter is 10 years old. Her father has type 1 diabetes, diagnosed when he was 27 years old. I realize my child has an estimated 6% chance of becoming a diabetic. She started getting headaches when she was five years old (brain scan results and eye tests were normal). Soon after she was born, she also experienced a few “bladder infections.” Less than a year ago, she had a kidney ultrasound and it was found that her one kidney was a little larger than normal. She then had a more intensive “kidney function scan” and the results were normal. A few months ago, my daughter had a vaginal infection, but it soon cleared up. She has also been gaining weight, but not a lot. During her last visit to the pediatrician a few months ago, a urine test was perfectly normal, no sugar, protein, etc. Could all these signs (headaches, kidney issue, bladder, weight gain, etc.) be the very early stages by diabetes?
I may be overreacting, but I’ve always been a little anxious about my daughter becoming a diabetic.
Also, my daughter’s paternal grandmother is hypothyroid and her aunt has Graves’ disease. Does my daughter have a really good chance of developing one or more of these diseases. Which one, diabetes or thyroid, is she more likely to develop?
None of these sound like diabetes as you describe them. You are correct that thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes are autoimmune problems and so have some genetic component/risk. We do not have accurate figures for thyroid problems, but for type 1 diabetes, we believe that the risk is in the neighborhood of 2 to 6% from father to child. There is some evidence from research studies in England that obesity is at least a partial trigger, so making sure that she does not gain excess weight would be helpful. Nothing else that is clinically available and safe is yet discovered to prevent type 1 diabetes or thyroid if this is “programmed” and if the right “trigger” occurs.