The prevalence and incidence of thyroid dysfunction in patients with diabetes - a longitudinal follow-up study



Thyroid dysfunction (TD) occurs in 13.4% of diabetic patients, which has prompted recommendations for annual thyroid screening in patients with diabetes. However, recommendations for annual screening should be based on disease incidence rather than prevalence.


In 1997–1998, seven hundred and thirty patients (618 type 2 diabetes, 55% male; 112 type 1 diabetes, 47% male) were sequentially screened for TD. The 639 patients with normal thyroid function were followed from 1999 to 2006, with annual thyroid function tests.


A total of 21/112 (19%) with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and 70/618 (11%) with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) had TD. TD was more frequent in females (p < 0.05) and T1DM (p = 0.04). The mean annual rate of conversion to abnormal tests was 2.1%. At 8 years, there were 100 new cases of TD representing 15.6% of the cohort (17 T1DM and 83 T2DM). TD was more frequent in females (p < 0.05), but there was no difference in the incidence of new TD between T1DM and T2DM (p = 0.39).


Our data confirms the high prevalence of TD in diabetic patients, in concordance with the results from other series. We found only 25 treatable cases of new thyroid disease from 639 patients in the 8-year follow-up, less than 0.5% per year. The low incidence of treatable thyroid disease challenges the need for annual screening for thyroid abnormalities in patients with type 2 diabetes.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Thompson.

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Tudor, R.M., Garrahy, A., Woods, C.P. et al. The prevalence and incidence of thyroid dysfunction in patients with diabetes - a longitudinal follow-up study. Ir J Med Sci 189, 171–175 (2020).

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  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Thyroid disease
  • Thyroid dysfunction