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Eur J Endocrinol. 1999 Jun;140(6):512-8.

Thyroid function, morphology and autoimmunity in young patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Paediatrics, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark.



An association between insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and autoimmune thyroid disease is well recognized. We have studied the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction, autoimmunity and morphological abnormalities by ultrasonography in young diabetics.


Among young IDDM patients less than 18 years old and living in the county of Funen, Denmark, 105 of 116 eligible patients participated. They were compared with 105 healthy children matched for sex and age. Routine thyroid function parameters (thyroxine (T4), tri-iodothyronine (T3), T3 resin uptake and TSH) and thyroid autoantibodies (anti-thyroid peroxidase, TPOab, and thyroglobulin antibodies, Tgab) were measured. Thyroid size and morphology were determined by ultrasonography.


Two of the diabetics had previously diagnosed hypothyroidism and three new cases of subclinical hypothyroidism were found. There were no significant differences in thyroid function variables or thyroid volume between diabetics and controls. Thyroid volume correlated significantly with age and weight in both groups. Among diabetics, 17 had thyroid autoantibodies (13 with TPOab, 14 with Tgab and 10 with both) compared with 2 children in the control group (P<0.001). Forty-four with IDDM as opposed to 11 of the controls (P<0.001) had morphological abnormalities at ultrasonography. Most of them had various degrees of hypoechogenicity thought to be a marker of thyroid autoimmunity. Among the 17 diabetics with autoantibodies, 10 had morphological abnormalities at ultrasonography.


A high proportion of young IDDM patients without any clinical signs of thyroid disease have markers of thyroid autoimmunity. Many have thyroid autoantibodies, but even more have abnormalities by thyroid ultrasonography.

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