Author(s): Hansen D, Bennedbaek FN, HierMadsen M
OBJECTIVE: Thyroid autoantibodies (TA) and thyroid ultrasonography are widely used in the diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD). However, we know little of the significance of having ultrasonographic abnormalities (USabn) without having any other signs of AITD. In a previous population-based study of 105 young patients with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) we found a high prevalence (42%) of USabn. In the present study we evaluate the development of both USabn and TA in a 3-Year follow-up of this cohort. DESIGN: Of the 105 previously investigated children and adolescents with T1DM (aged 5-21 Years), 101 were re-examined. Serum concentrations of tri-iodothyronine (T(3)), thyroxine (T(4)), TSH, thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (Tgab), as well as thyroid size and morphology were determined in all patients. RESULTS: During the 3 Years follow-up period, the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction increased from 5 to 8%, the prevalence of TPOab was unchanged at 13%, while the prevalence of Tgab decreased from 14 to 7%. The prevalence of USabn increased from 42 to 49%. Most patients presented USabn at both examinations. Patients with USabn had a higher prevalence of TA than those without USabn (P=0.038) and higher serum levels of TSH (P=0.027). All patients with thyroid dysfunction presented with USabn. However, many patients with USabn had no other signs of AITD. CONCLUSIONS: A high prevalence of thyroid dysfunction, TA and thyroid USabn were found in young patients with T1DM. Thyroid USabn was a sensitive but non-specific marker of AITD and is therefore unsuitable for screening purposes. Instead, we recommend regular screening using serum TSH in the follow-up of young diabetic patients.