An approach to the correlation between vitiligo and autoimmune thyroiditis in Chinese children

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2010 Oct;35(7):706-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2009.03671.x.


Background: Vitiligo is a common skin depigmenting disease, which is thought to have, at least partly, an autoimmune aetiology.

Aim: To explore the correlation between paediatric vitiligo and other associated diseases, with an emphasis on autoimmune thyroiditis (AT).

Methods: In total, 363 paediatric patients (198 boys, 165 girls) with vitiligo and 93 healthy children (55 boys, 38 girls) were screened for autoimmune thyroiditis. The two groups were matched for age and gender. Children with vitiligo were split into two groups according to type (segmental and nonsegmental vitiligo). Demographic data, clinical features and examinations were recorded using questionnaires. Thyroid function tests including free triiodothyronine, free thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone were performed. Anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody) and anti-thyroglobulin antibody levels were assessed as well. Other associated diseases were also monitored in this study.

Results: Of the 363 patients, 43 (11.8%) had abnormal levels of studied thyroid parameters, compared with 4 of the 93 controls (4.3%); the difference was significant (P = 0.04). The alterations of thyroid parameters and the incidence of AT in patients with nonsegmental vitiligo were both significantly different (P < 0.05, P = 0.04) relative to the segmental vitiligo group. Of the 363 patients, 67 (18.5%) had other associated diseases. There were no differences in the rates of other associated diseases between patients with segmental vitiligo and those with nonsegmental vitiligo (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: A significant incidence of thyroid dysfunction was found in paediatric patients with nonsegmental vitiligo. As vitiligo usually appears before the development of the thyroid disease, it may be advantageous to screen thyroid functions and antibody levels in all paediatric patients with vitiligo, especially those with nonsegmental vitiligo.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodide Peroxidase / immunology
  • Male
  • Thyroglobulin / immunology
  • Thyroid Function Tests / methods
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / complications*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / physiopathology
  • Vitiligo / etiology*
  • Vitiligo / immunology
  • Vitiligo / physiopathology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Iodide Peroxidase