thyroid disorders in children

Disease Spotlight: Thyroid Disorders in Children

Thyroid disorders in children are not common, compared with adults. Let’s see how to spot it and know the signs.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland found in the neck.

The thyroid glande produces two hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream to control the body’s growth and metabolism: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally.
There has to be some sort of mechanism that regulates very carefully the amount of T4 and T3 secreted by the thyroid gland so that the right – the normal – amounts are manufactured and delivered into the blood stream.
Men, teenagers, children1 and babies can be affected by thyroid disorders. Children can benefit greatly from early diagnosis and treatment1,2.

The thyroid gland that doesn’t produce enough hormones is defined as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). This is the most common disorder.
Contrariwise, an overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, is where the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones.

Symptoms associated with hypothyroidism:

  • tiredness
  • feeling cold
  • weight gain
  • poor concentration
  • depression.

Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism:

  • weight loss
  • heat intolerance
  • anxiety
  • sore eyes (not usual).
1. British Thyroid Foundation. Congenital hypothyroidism. Available here. Last accessed January 2017
2. Child Growth Foundation. Thyroid Disorders A Guide for Parents and Patients Available here Last accessed January 2017

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