From Torrance, California, USA:
My 2 year old son was diagnosed at a year old and we do not have a family history of Type 1 Diabetes. However, there is a family member with Rheumatoid Arthritis which I was told is also an autoimmune disease. Is there a connection? Are families with one type of autoimmune disease more susceptible to other types of autoimmune diseases? And what other diseases are autoimmune diseases?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is indeed thought to be a disorder of the immune system as is Lupus Erythematosis and probably Multiple Sclerosis. These conditions occur primarily on their own as indeed do most cases of Type 1A or autoimmune diabetes. In recent years however it has been recognised that sometimes autoimmune disorders, including especially diabetes, may be linked together and in these instances the term Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndromes has been used. Another web site that offers a good if somewhat technical account of them is www.uchsc.edu/misc/diabetes/oxch8.html.
People who have one component of these latter syndromes are indeed more vulnerable to the other autoimmune components and that is why almost all cases of Type 1A Diabetes are now tested for hypothyroidism and in recent years also for anti-21-hydroxylase antibodies for adrenal insufficiency and transglutaminase antibodies for the celiac syndrome.
Original posting 19 Mar 1999
Posted to Genetics and Heredity
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