Also known as: underactive thyroid.

Hypothyroidism in Children

The thyroid gland is a small organ in the neck that produces hormones that impact how your body uses energy. When your body produces less thyroid hormone than your body needs, this condition is known as hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down and can lead to several complications, but it can be treated successfully.

What causes hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism can be congenital, meaning the child was born with an anomaly of the thyroid gland formation or function.

It can also be caused by inflammation secondary to a dysregulation of the immune system, certain medications, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, treatment for hyperthyroidism or a complication of other medical conditions.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Possible symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • dry skin
  • swelling
  • muscle weakness
  • high cholesterol
  • constipation or a number of other indications.

Women with hypothyroidism may have heavy or irregular menstrual periods or problems with fertility. It can also contribute to depression and a slow heart rate.

How can hypothyroidism affect children?

Hypothyroidism in children (pediatric hypothyroidism) is common but treatable. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, it can also lead to problems with growth and development.

What are hypothyroidism treatments?

The common treatment for hypothyroidism is taking hormone replacement therapy in the form of a daily tablet of a synthetic thyroid hormone known as levothyroxine.

Treatments typically require multiple checkups and adjustments of the medication dosage to get the right amount for the child. Some patients may need to adjust their intake of iodine, as well.

Reviewed by: Alejandro Diaz, MD

This page was last updated on: July 22, 2022 09:51 AM

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