Thyroid antibodies and disease progression to hypothyroidism

So, a 70-year-old relative recently tested positive for thyroid antibodies. But his current tests show he has totally normal thyroid function. This is his first time being tested so we have no idea how long he’s had these antibodies. I’m wondering if maybe they’ve been lurking in his body from a young age but just somehow never got activated? His mother(who lived to be about 98) had hypothyroidism – though she was diagnosed at at time before antibody testing, so no way to know if it was autoimmune or other cause.

I guess I’m curious if Hashimoto’s is like T1D in that there are a lot of people walking around with type 1 diabetes antibodies who never develop T1D, and another large population that basically spends decades progressing from antibody positive to manifesting? Or do these antibodies mean he definitely will develop the disease eventually?

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My son, who is 12, has thyroid antibodies that would potentially lead him to Hashimoto’s, but his thyroid function is normal. So, a few weeks ago, I asked the NP specifically the same question at a regular visit.

She told me that up to 5% of the normal population has such antibodies, and that most of them never develop Hashimoto’s (but she could not tell me exact % of how many develop it). She also said that she figures that, when PWDs have such antibodies, the % developing Hashimoto’s will be more than in the general population, but that, even for PWDs, having such antibodies does not mean that you will develop Hashimoto’s.

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