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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.


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.