Hypothyroid in children can be of grave concern to parents. Often the symptoms of the disorder appear but can be mistaken for bad eating habits and depression. Hypothyroid in children can affect both boys and girls and can easily be treated by a pediatric endocrinologist. The thyroid is the gland that secrets the hormone that control metabolism and body energy levels. It is located in the throat and looks like a butterfly that surrounds the trachea and voice box.
What is Hypothyroidism?
According to Medline Plus, a hypothyroid in children is an illness that affects the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and surrounds the voice box and trachea, which is the wind pipe that goes from the mouth to the lungs. Although hypothyroid can occur at any age, it is of particular concern in children, since the thyroid controls metabolism and energy levels. Hypothyroid is under-activity of the thyroid gland, meaning that it is not producing enough thyroid hormone to properly regulate energy levels in the body.
Who is Affected?
Hypothyroid in children affects kids at almost any age. Very often it does not become a problem until a child reaches their teen years, when their body is going through a growth spurt and energy levels are especially important and fluctuate. However, hypothyroidism can affect almost anyone at any age. According to eHealthMD, an underactive thyroid in very young children can be of special concern because it may affect their physical growth and in older children hypothyroid can not only result in physical symptoms but also interfere with learning and academic success.
Hypothyroid is an under-active or dysfunctional thyroid gland. According to eHealthMD, there are two causes of the development of hypothyroid in children–late appearance of congenital problems and an inhibition of the production of thyroid hormone. Congenital defects in the thyroid are present at the time the baby is born, but occasionally defects do not become active or appear until later in life, including childhood. Inhibition in thyroid production can be the result of injury to the thyroid, insufficient amounts of iodine in the diet or a side effect of medications.
Signs and Symptoms
According to WebMD, the signs and symptoms of hypothyroid in children include fatigue, depression symptoms, weakness, weight gain, dry nails and constipation. Although low energy can be attributed to age in teens who need more sleep and rest than during other times in childhood, it is of concern when a teen appears to have delayed onset of puberty or is not reaching average or expected height. Depressive symptoms can include unusual crying or tearfulness, down mood, agitation and irritability. Teachers may notice that the child is having problems completing homework or assignments. Finally, unexplained weight gain that cannot be connected to poor diet may be a symptom of hypothyroidism.
According to ehealthMD, treatment of hypothyroid in children narrows down to supplying the body with the needed thyroid hormone. This is often accomplished through medication; in many cases, children who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism will need to take thyroid hormone medication the rest of their lives. An experienced physician who works with children with hypothyroidism will be able to assist with adjusting the medications as needed since thyroid hormone levels may fluctuate periodically during childhood.