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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Patients with Autoimmune Thyroid Disease Risk Developing Secondary Autoimmune Conditions

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 02/10/2010 - A team of researchers recently set out to determine whether patients with autoimmune thyroid disease risk developing secondary autoimmune disorders, and whether such diseases tend to cluster in families.

    The research team included Kristien Boelaert, PhD, Paul R. Newbya, Matthew J. Simmonds, PhD, Roger L. Holderb, Jacqueline D. Carr-Smitha, Joanne M. Heward, PhD, Nilusha Manjia, Amit Allahabadia, MD, Mary Armitage, DM, Krishna V. Chatterjee, PhD, John H. Lazarus, MD, Simon H. Pearce, PhD, Bijay Vaidya, PhD, Stephen C. Gough, PhD, Jayne A. Franklyn, PhD.

    To properly assess the prevalence of coexisting autoimmune disorders, the team conducted a cross-sectional multi-center study of 3286 Caucasian patients at UK hospital thyroid clinics. 2791 of the patients had Graves' disease, while 495 had Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

    Patients completed a comprehensive questionnaire detailing personal and parental history of common autoimmune disorders, along with a history of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism among parents.

    The frequency of developing another autoimmune disorder was 9.67% in Graves' disease and 14.3% in Hashimoto's thyroiditis index cases (P=.005). Rheumatoid arthritis was the most common coexisting autoimmune disorder, striking 3.15% of those with Graves' disease and 4.24% of those with Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

    Relative risks of almost all other autoimmune diseases in Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis were significantly increased (>10 for pernicious anemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, Addison's disease, celiac disease, and vitiligo).

    Results showed relative “clustering” of Graves' disease, and of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, among patients whose parents had hyperthyroidism. Moreover, most other coexisting autoimmune disorders showed markedly increased relative risks for patients with parental history of such disorders.

    This effort to quantify the risk of diagnosis of coexisting autoimmune diseases in more than 3000 index cases with well-characterized Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis represents one of the most comprehensive studies yet completed.

    The elevated risks for developing multiple conditions emphasizes the importance of screening for other autoimmune diagnoses in subjects with autoimmune thyroid disease who present new or nonspecific symptoms.

    Source: American Journal of Medicine - Volume 123, Issue 2, Pages 183.e1-183.e9 - February 2010


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    Wow, this article could have been written about me! I have been diagnosed with autoimmune disorders starting with thyroid issues for 15 years. More and more autoimmune issues have compounded over the years until last week I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance disease. I was gluten free for one week when I accidentally ate something with gluten and got more sick than I can ever remember being. It ended up with a trip to the doctor for cat scans, blood tests for celiac (still pending) and a stomach the size of a 7 month pregnant woman. I have a 4 month old and they made me get a pregnancy test because I looked so pregnant...how embarrassing! Needless to say, this past week has changed my life. I have children that have autistic tendencies and they will be going gluten-free too. Thank you for this site and for this article. I have been immersing myself in learning everything and may even write my own book by the time I am through. There is not enough media attention about gluten intolerance...there should be laws requiring disclosure of gluten in products to protect all of us. Thank you again for this article!

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    This is a yes for me too. .Five years ago I was diagnosed as having Hasimotos Thyroid Disease, then I ended up with Moderate Adrenal Fatigue, and just three weeks ago I was tested for Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Sprue. I have the DNA gene for both. My Question is what came first. Most likely the DNA gene. But what activated the craziness my body is going through? I guess that is the million dollar answer! Let's just hope that I found out soon enough and with a gluten-free diet maybe this craziness will stop. I am tired of be sick all the time.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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