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Kids with diabetes may have other immune diseases


A third of kids with type-1 diabetes have other immune system disorders, according to a new study from the University of Colorado, Denver. This underscores the importance of looking for the additional diseases once the diabetes is diagnosed.

Type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system misfires and attacks its own body. In diabetes, it’s the pancreas that is attacked and that makes insulin go out of whack. Doctors have known that kids with diabetes also run the risk of other autoimmune disorders including thyroid disease, celiac disease and Addison’s disease. What researchers wanted to know was if the symptoms of those three diseases were present at the time diabetes was diagnosed.

A third of the kids diagnosed had signs of the other diseases. According to Dr. Jennifer Barker, this means parents and pediatricians should be looking for those three diseases while they are considering diabetes, not later.

Autoimmune thyroid disease can cause either an over- or under-active thyroid. The over-active thyroid will cause nervousness, weight loss, sleep problems and intolerance to heat. Under-active causes fatigue, dry skin, hair loss and importantly slow growth in height.

Celiac is a digestive disorder related to glutens and will damage the intestines. Addison’s disease causes a reduction in certain hormones and will lead to weakness, fatigue, appetite and weight loss, and irritability.

Right now the American Diabetes Association recommends that children are tested for celiac and thyroid disease at the time of diabetes diagnosis. There is no guideline for Addison’s.

Parents should watch their children’s behavior and development. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Source: Diabetes Care, Reuters


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