Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disorder. Researchers are finding that other autoimmune diseases may be related in families where a child or other family member have one of these types of disorders. What are some other autoimmune disease risks in children with type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease. A child must have a genetic predisposition and some sort of environmental trigger or triggers to cause an immune response where autoantibodies attack the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Researchers are still not sure which environmental triggers are responsible, though viruses, vitamin D deficiency and other dietary factors such as introducing solid foods too early in a child’s diet seem to be the most likely.
According to an article on Genetic Health, someone with type 1 diabetes, or a child who has a family member with this type of diabetes, has a 20% chance of developing another type of autoimmune disease. It has not been discovered whether one autoimmune disorder is an actual cause of another, but researchers have found that several autoimmune disorders may share the same genetic predispositions. If so, children with a genetic predisposition for one autoimmune disease may develop others.
A study in Diabetologia was done to determine if there was an association between type 1 diabetes and 33 other autoimmune and related disorder. This was just one study with less than half a million subjects, but an association was found between type 1 diabetes and 13 different autoimmune or related diseases. Only an association was developed between these disorders, but no actual causation has yet been proven.
What are the other autoimmune disorders found more frequently in families and children with type 1 diabetes? The most common related autoimmune disorders your child or another family member may develop included those affecting adrenal glands, thyroid, digestive tract, skin, reproductive tract and muscles. Type 1 diabetes has also been associated with asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, certain type of anemia, lupus and multiple sclerosis.
The most common associated autoimmune disorders that occur in children or other family members with type 1 diabetes are those affecting the adrenal glands, thyroid and digestive tract.
An autoimmune disorder affecting the adrenal gland is Addison’s Disease. This disease occurs when the body attacks and destroys the adrenal cortex. Symptoms can include weakness, fatigue and nausea. Those with the disorder can experiences changes in blood pressure and electrolytes, anemia, frequent fungal infections and even hepatitis.
Related autoimmune thyroid disorders are Graves disease, causing increased thyroid function and Hashimoto’s disease, causing decreased thyroid function. The thyroid regulates body temperature, mood, pulse and metabolism. Symptoms will vary depending on if the thyroid is overactive or underactive.
The most common autoimmune digestive disorder related to type 1 diabetes is celiac disease. In this disorder, autoantibodies attack gluten that enters the body through certain foods. These autoantibodies then start to attack the lining in the small intestine. Proper nutrients are no longer able to be absorbed from the intestines and malnourishment results.
Researchers are still searching for the causes of autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes. They are discovering association between many autoimmune disorders and will hopefully be able to find some type of treatment. With relations being found between these autoimmune disorders found in children and their families, perhaps one type of treatment will be able to help with many of these disorders.
K. Hemminki, et al.; Familial association between type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune and related diseases; Diabetologia, V52, N9, 1820-28
Karmel Allison; Overlapping Illnesses: Autoimmune Polyendocrine Syndromes and Type 1 Diabetes; a Sweet Life
Jolynne M Hudnell; Viral Triggers to Type 1 Diabetes; Associated Content/Yahoo!
Jolynne M Hudnell; Can Diet Trigger Type 1 Diabetes?