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From Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA:

Has anyone found a relationship between high ANA [antinuclear antibody, a lab test] in mother and eventual diagnosis (at age 5) of type 1 diabetes in daughter?


There is indeed a relationship, albeit a rather tortuous one. ANA testing has for many years been a diagnostic tool for autoimmune disease, especially for Lupus Erythematosis. It has never enjoyed a similar role however in the identification of Type 1A or autoimmune diabetes. Relatively recently though, it has been realised that this latter type of diabetes may occur as a component of a syndrome involving several autoimmune disorders, the Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome.

The most common associations in childhood are with hypothyroidism and after that with the celiac syndrome and with adrenal insufficiency; some kinds of connective tissue disorders, and cases of pernicious anemia can also join this list.

In the circumstances, it seems reasonable to suppose that you and your daughter both have a genetically inherited predisposition to autoimmune disorders. You might indeed think to discuss getting anti 21-hydroxylase and antitransglutaminase levels on your daughter with her pediatrician/endocrinologist on the grounds that it might be helpful to know if they are positive however unlikely the need for treatment. There is a fairly recent Finnish study that was part of their attempt to link diabetes in children to the presence of cow's milk antibodies. They found a weakly significant association between ANA and Islet Cell Antibodies. The reference, if you have access to a medical library, is Vahasali.P. et al. Autoimmunity, Vol. l23, Page 165, 1996. You might also try to search in PubMed under 'ANA in diabetes'.


Original posting 27 Oct 1999
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:06
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