• Diabetes is at least 4 times as common in Down syndrome as in the general population and affects around 1 in 60 children with Down syndrome.
  • Type 1 diabetes tends to develop at a younger age (22% under 2 years old) and may reflect a particularly aggressive autoimmune phenotype
  • There is a high incidence of other autoimmune disorders in people with diabetes and Down syndrome, especially thyroid disease (in 30%) and coeliac disease (in 20%)
  • Presentation, management aims, treatment options and outcomes are no different to those for other people with diabetes. However, the evidence is that insulin regimes tend to be simpler and metabolic control is usually better.
  • Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with insulin resistance, overweight and obesity, is the most common type of diabetes in adults with Down syndrome. Evidence suggests people with Down syndrome have a greater risk of insulin resistance than the general population and it often presents at an earlier age.

Last updated March 2015

Presentations at DSMIG Meetings

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Additional Resources

Type 1 Diabetes and other autoimmune disorders in Down’s Syndrome

Transcript of conference paper by Dr Julian Shield at RSM conference April 2001

Dr Julian Shield

Early-onset, coexisting autoimmunity and decreased HLA-mediated susceptibility are the characteristics of diabetes in Down syndrome. (paper)

Aitken RJ et al . Diabetes Care. 2013;36(5):1181-5


Initiative Down’s syndrome in diabetic patients aged



DSA Health series publication

Published October 2013

Book Chapter – Endocrine Disorders – Diabetes

Hilary Hoey and Pat Charlton

in Down Syndrome – Current Perspectives

Edited by Richard Newton , Shiela Puri and Liz Marder Mackeith Press 2015