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April 17, 2001

Other Illnesses

Question from Wilmington, North Carolina, USA:

Since patients with type 1 diabetes have an autoimmune disease, do they have the chance of other organs being attacked also?


From: DTeam Staff

The short answer is yes; patients with type 1 can develop other autoimmune disorders. We have extensive information about type 1A diabetes on this website. This information looks at diabetes as an autoimmune disease. We know your child had an insult to the pancreas a while ago, likely more than a year or two, which set off a cascade that destroyed the pancreatic islet cells.

Can similar insults occur to other glands? Yes. Twenty percent at least have thyroid disease, so we recommend thyroid tests at regular intervals and exams at regular intervals. Some have vitamin B12 problems and pernicious anemia, although that is rare. Rheumatoid arthritis seems to occur in families with diabetes. Very rarely, adrenal disease has been reported. The main point is that other diseases are reported. Your daughter’s endocrinologist will know about this, but the truth is that it is rare, save for the thyroid disease.


[Editor’s comment: Also, see the discussion about Autoimmune Endocrine Failure Syndromes, at the Diabetes Monitor.