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Thyroid. 2003 Mar;13(3):297-300.

Familial aggregation of autoimmune thyroiditis in first-degree relatives of patients with juvenile autoimmune thyroid disease.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology and Thyroid Research Centre, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, Delhi, India. marwaha_raman@hotmail.com


Several studies have shown aggregation of autoimmune thyroiditis in families by estimation of thyroid antibodies. However, the prevalence by concurrent estimation with fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and thyroid antibodies has not been previously reported. We therefore studied 222 first-degree relatives (group 1) of 71 index cases diagnosed as lymphocytic thyroiditis on FNAC and 81 family members (group 2) of 23 goitrous children diagnosed as colloid goiter on FNAC for comparison. Successful FNAC conducted in 122 group 1 subjects revealed lymphocytic thyroiditis in 51 (42%), whereas lymphocytic thyroiditis was diagnosed in only 5 goitrous subjects (13%) in group 2. Among group 1 subjects with FNAC-proven lymphocytic thyroiditis, antithyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies were found in 35 (67%), while in anti-TPO antibody positive goitrous relatives of group 1, lymphocytic thyroiditis was found in 36 (78%). Eight new cases of overt hypothyroidism and 45 new cases of subclinical hypothyroidism were diagnosed among group 1 subjects. Our study suggests: (1). familial clustering of autoimmune thyroiditis; (2). if only FNAC or thyroid antibodies is used for diagnosis of autoimmune thyroiditis in children, 22%-33% of cases are likely to be missed; and (3). serum thyrotropin (TSH) should be offered to all first-degree relatives of patients with juvenile autoimmune thyroiditis.

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