Thyroid in Kids: Everything You Need to Know

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Thyroid disorders are common in adults. However, it has been medically concluded that nearly 1 in 1250 children are affected by hypothyroidism. Children with such disorders need help from pediatric endocrinologists to get control of the situation.

Thyroid in Kids

Congenital Hypothyroidism

Many newborns are affected by congenital hypothyroidism that is characterized by a lack of adequate thyroid hormones. This can be either due to improper development of the thyroid gland or absence of the gland. If untreated, hypothyroidism causes severe mental retardation or growth defects in children. The disorder can be identified with a blood test at birth.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Children and adolescents are also affected by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system affects the thyroid gland. In this case, the disorder developed is hypothyroidism and thyroid gland tends to become inactive if untreated. The symptoms associated with this disorder are:

  1. Itchy skin
  2. Tiredness
  3. Lethargy
  4. Weight gain
  5. Sensitivity to heat and cold
  6. Poor concentration
  7. Constipation

Grave’s Disease

This is the most common cause of thyroid in children. In this autoimmune disease, the body produces antibodies that stimulate the glands leading to excessive production of thyroid hormone. The child displays excessive energy, restlessness, and distraction. Physically, the thyroid gland is enlarged and if untreated, the symptoms might get worse.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition of the overactive thyroid gland in the human body. The most common reason for children to get hyperthyroidism is from the mother. In medical terms, this condition is referred to as neonatal hyperthyroidism. When a mother is infected with Grave’s disease, the thyroid-stimulating antibodies in her blood can affect the fetus’s thyroid gland. This situation needs no treatment as it will clear off by itself from the baby’s bloodstream. The symptoms associated with this are:

  1. Extreme fast pulse
  2. Irritability
  3. Flushed and moist skin
  4. Heavy appetite
  5. Long and thin body

Iodine deficiency, pituitary gland failure, etc. are other reasons for hypothyroidism in children. There is also a thyroid-eye disease that affects children rarely.

Diagnosis

Thyroid disorders in children are diagnosed commonly through physical examination and blood tests. The age of the child plays a vital role during diagnosis. Congenital hypothyroidism cases have been identified in 1 out of 4000 babies during birth. Goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland that can cause problems in breathing and swallowing. This can be easily identified using physical examination. 

Treatment

Thyroid in children can be treated with daily thyroid hormone therapy. The dose and treatment methods are identified by the pediatrician endocrinologist and child’s pediatrician. Newborn babies with thyroid disorders are treated within five months of delivery is delayed treatment can affect central nervous systems and cause a metabolic delay in a child’s growth and development.

Childhood is precious for both the parent and the child. When children are affected by disorders like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it is important for parents to take adequate care of them.

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