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August 30, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Towanda, Pennsylvania, USA:

Six months ago, my grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he had a blood sugar of 900 mg/dl [50 mmol/L]. His control was very good from the start, and he currently takes little insulin. He had blood work two weeks ago, and I now have a letter from the physician stating that my grandson may have an underactive thyroid instead of diabetes. They are going to run more tests.

Answer:

It’s pretty difficult to mix up hypothyroidism, or even hyperthyroidism in a child with diabetes. Thyroid abnormalities can interfere with glucose control but not to the extent of a 900 mg/dl [50 mmol/L] blood sugar level. However, diabetes and thyroid disorders often co-exist — about 20-40% of the time depending upon which research studies are quoted, and about 10% of kids with type 1 diabetes will need some thyroid medication.

Perhaps you could join your grandchild at a doctor’s appointment and ask these questions to your grandchild’s pediatrician/endocrinologist so that you can get a more definitive answer. If you are still questioning the situation, a second opinion from another pediatric endocrinologist/diabetologist is always a possibility.

SB