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March 8, 2003

Sick Days

Question from Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA:

My six year old daughter, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes nine months ago, rarely got sick before she was diagnosed, but she started kindergarten last fall and has been sick very often since school began. Her twin sister who does not have diabetes has not been sick as often as her. The pediatrician said that she will always be more prone to illness because diabetes is an autoimmune disease, but I thought that it just caused her immune system to attack its own islet cells and did not think it had anything to do with susceptibility to illness.

Answer:

Diabetes that is not well controlled can make children who have it more prone to illness. However, when children have reasonable control, they typically do not experience illness more often than other children.

MSB