Of the many immune related disorders linked with the celiac condition, the best established connection is with Type I diabetes (mellitus). Type I diabetes occurs at a rate of about 0.5% in the general population, but at a rate estimated at 5-10% among celiacs. Normally the diabetes is diagnosed first, both because this form of diabetes tends to strike early in life and its diagnosis is certain. No connection has been found with the more common form of diabetes (mellitus= honey , from the sugar laden urine when uncontrolled), Type II which occurs at a rate of 2-2.5% in the general population.

Like celiac disease, Type I diabetes is more common in those of northern European extraction. Like celiac disease, it is highly linked to the so-called HLA markers of the immune system, those marking white blood cells. Celiacs are likely to be positive for both HLA-B8 and HLA-DR3; Type Is are most linked to HLA-B8 and either HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4. An English study about 6 months ago found that multiple genes were linked to Type I reflecting the fact that parents of a Type I are often diabetes free: the interpretation being that genes were required from both sides. The recent request for celiac siblings for a study of genetic typing intends to duplicate that one looking for celiac genes.

References: Gluten Intolerance Group of North America newsletter, V. 13, Issue 2, 1987; New York Times, Sept. 13, 1994, genetics study by Dr. John Todd at Oxford, summarized by Kemp Randolph.

For more information see our Related Disorders page.

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