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Can A Child Have Thyroid Problems

What Is The Thyroid Gland

How Mom’s Thyroid Problems Can Hurt Baby

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is located in the lower front of the neck, just above the collarbone. The thyroids job is to make thyroid hormones, which are released into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. In children, thyroid hormone helps to ensure that growth and development occur normally and that the bodys energy, metabolism, heart, muscles, and other organs are working properly.

Causes Of Thyroid Problems In Children


Hyperthyroidism can be caused by numerous conditions, including:

  • Graves disease Overproduction of thyroid hormone.
  • Toxic adenomas The formulation of nodules within the thyroid gland which release thyroid hormones.
  • Subacute thyroiditis Where the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and leaks excessive amounts of hormones.
  • Malfunction of the pituitary glands/thyroid gland cancerAlthough uncommon, cancer of the thyroid gland can cause hyperthyroidism.


Hypothyroidism can be caused by numerous conditions, including:

  • Hashimotos thyroiditis Where the body attacks the tissue of the thyroid, which eventually causes the tissue to die and halt the performance of hormones.
  • Thyroid gland removal Where the gland is either surgically or chemically removed/destroyed.
  • Too much iodine Some medication and medical practices may expose individuals to too much iodine, which can lead to the development of hypothyroidism.
  • Lithium has been known to lead to hypothyroidism when consumed.

Thyroid Nodules

A Book About Hashimotos In Children


If you would like to know more about autoimmune hypothyroidism in children, feel free to check out my book . I wrote it to help spread awareness that thyroid disease affects children, and to provide some much needed support to other families walking this journey, It not only tells our story, but Ive also tried to include all the tidbits of information I wish we had known at the beginning. All the little things that no-one ever tells you.

Thank you so much to Janie and Stop the Thyroid Madness for allowing me to share my familys story and to help spread the message that hypothyroid kids and their families need support too!

From Janie Bowthorpe of Stop the Thyroid Madness: I strongly recommend her book if you suspect or know your child has Hashimotos disease.


Important note: STTM is an information-only site based on what many patients worldwide have reported in their treatment and wisdom over the years. This is not to be taken as personal medical advice, nor to replace a relationship with your doctor. By reading this information-only website, you take full responsibility for what you choose to do with this website’s information or outcomes. See the Disclaimer and Terms of Use.

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What Are Thyroid Problems

Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.

How Are Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Treated

Symptoms of Thyroid Disease in Children

Doctors treat an underactive thyroid with daily thyroid hormone replacement pills. These will bring the body’s levels of thyroid hormone back to normal.

This treatment is fairly simple, but a person will have doctor visits several times a year for an exam, blood tests, and medicine changes as needed.

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Treatment For Thyroid Disorders In Children

Early identification and treatment of thyroid disorders might help regulate the growth and development of the child .

The primary goal of the treatment is to correct the levels of thyroid hormones and restore growth and development in the child. However, the course of treatment for thyroid disorders depends on the underlying cause.

  • If your childs thyroid issues are due to reduced function, then your doctor might prescribe hormone replacement therapy, where daily pills of synthetic thyroid hormones are given. The child may have to take this medication every day for the rest of life .
  • If your childs thyroid problems are due to iodine deficiency, then a daily intake of iodized salt might help in restoring the levels of thyroid hormones .
  • Rarely, but in extreme cases, radioactive iodine or surgery may be considered to remove the gland in case of hyperfunction.
  • In some cases, it may be indicated to remove part or whole of the thyroid gland by surgery.

Early detection is crucial in the case of thyroid disorders in children, as on-time treatment could help your child to reach healthy developmental goals. So, be observant of any signs or symptoms that indicate the child has a thyroid problem and work with your doctor to provide the best possible care for your child.

Do you have any experiences to share? Let us know in the comments section below.


Endocrinology Services And Innovations

The Division of Endocrinology at the Childrens Hospital of Michigan provides comprehensive care to children/pediatric patients with endocrine problems and diabetes mellitus.

Specialized services offered to newborns and older children include growth hormone testing and treatment, outpatient education, regular follow-up phone calls and research studies. Children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, hypopituitarism, short stature, thyroid and parathyroid problems, diabetes insipidus, precocious puberty and other endocrine problems are regularly followed up in clinic by the pediatric endocrinologist, a pediatric nurse practitioner, endocrine nurses and a dietitian.

The Endocrinology Division at the Childrens Hospital of Michigan also offers the following services:

  • Classes for patients with new onset diabetes mellitus, 6 times a year
  • Insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring classes, 6 times a year
  • Detroit area school nurse training program in August
  • A quarterly diabetes newsletter offering useful tips to manage diabetes. To receive the newsletter please email
  • Diabetes mellitus support group
  • World Diabetes Day event yearly

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Thyroid Disease In Children

Thyroid disease during infancy, which is usually identified through newborn screening tests, is not common. Congenital hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid problem identified at birth.

After infancy, your child might not have thyroid tests unless you mention symptoms of thyroid disease to his or her pediatrician, or if your child has a risk of thyroid disease due to a family history.

In kids, hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland is underproducing thyroid hormone, is more common than hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Both can produce consequences that affect your child’s growth, health, mood, and ability to concentrate and learn.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis , which typically causes hypothyroidism, is the most common type of thyroid disease in children.

Explaining To Your Child

Identifying if your child has thyroid related problems

Depending on their level of understanding it might be helpful to tell your child where the thyroid is and what it does. One way is to describe it as a butterfly sitting in the front centre of the neck over the windpipe.

The function or job of the thyroid can be explained as being like a boiler. If the thyroid is overactive , it is turned up too high. If it is underactive , it is turned down too low and when its making the right amount with the help of treatment the thermostat is set just right

Although every effort is made to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional.

As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals Dr Vanderpump cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can he be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.

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Then Comes Children Who Acquire A Thyroid Problem During Their Childhood Years

For most children, that acquired problem is Hashimotos thyroiditis. Its the autoimmune version of hypothyroidism. Symptoms can be similar to adults, such as vacillating between hypo- and hyper- symptoms because of the attack on the thyroid, dry hair, easy fatigue or poor stamina, weight gain for some, or weight loss for others, constipation and more.

Id like to introduce you to Cindy Kennedy.

Shes a mother of two young children both of whom have Hashimotos. Shes also the author of Help! My Child Has Hashimotos and owner of Nutrition Navigator, a Nutritional Medicine Practice in Grafton, NSW of Australia. As a qualified Nutritional Medicine Practitioner as well as a mother, she is passionate about raising awareness in the community on the plight of families living with invisible illness and helping people overcome their autoimmune and thyroid disease. She wrote the following just for readers of Stop the Thyroid Madness.

How Is Congenital Hypothyroidism Treated

A child with hypothyroidism will take thyroid hormone to make up for what the thyroid gland can’t make. Most kids need to take the medicine for the rest of their lives.

Some infants are born with temporary hypothyroidism. This can be caused by things such as premature birth, thyroid disease in the mother, or medicines the mother had during pregnancy. This form of hypothyroidism usually goes away by itself in the first weeks or months of life.

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Thyroid Disease In Kids: Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment

Dr. Naim Mitre, Pediatric Endocrinology

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the neck and plays an important role in the body. It produces hormones that control brain development and growth in babies, and regulates metabolism as the child gets older.

The most common thyroid problems are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroid nodules, which are all treatable.

Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Problems In Teenage Boys And Girls

Can kids have thyroid problems?

Most symptoms of thyroid problems in teenagers occur gradually and are often hard to diagnose. The absence of goiter in case of hypothyroidism makes it even more difficult to detect it. Look out for the following symptoms that the child may experience during puberty, to determine if they have a thyroid issue:

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Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease In Children

While thyroid disease most often develops during adulthood, it can occur in infants, children, and teenagers as well. The symptoms of thyroid disease in children may be hard to recognize because manychanges in appetite, sleep patterns, emotions, and energy levelsare all also experienced as part of normal development during these years.

Causes Of Permanent Congenital Hypothyroidism

Permanent congenital thyroidal hypothyroidism can be the consequence of a disorder in thyroid development and/or migration , or due to defects at every step in thyroid hormone synthesis . Although congenital hypothyroidism is in the great majority of cases a sporadic disease, the recent guidelines for CH recommend genetic counseling in targeted cases. Positive family history for CH, association with cardiac or kidney malformation, midline malformation deafness, neurological sigs panel, covering all exons of the major CH genes, has been proposed as a useful tool to identify the genetic etiology of CH . Lowering TSH cut off value at screening increases the diagnosis of CH with eutopic thyroid. A targeted next-generation panel has been applied to patients with CH and thyroid in situ .

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Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are usually subtle and gradual, and may resemble those of other conditions or medical problems. Many symptoms are non-specific and may be ignored as normal parts of our everyday lives. Because of this, the condition may go undetected for years.

Symptoms may include:

  • Slower reaction time
  • Weight gain
  • Sparse, coarse and dry hair
  • Coarse, dry and thickened skin
  • Slow pulse
  • Sides of eyebrows thin or fall out
  • Dull facial expression
  • Enlarged thyroid, producing a goiter-like growth on the neck
  • Increased menstrual flow and cramping in girls and young women

If you have concerns about your child’s health, talk to your childs physician.

Thyroid Problems In Children

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Many parents worry about their children, especially their health. Thyroid problems in children arent a rare occurrence, although it isnt so common to the point of being an epidemic. On average, around five percent of those with hyperthyroidism are under the age of fifteen. Some parents may assume that their child has a thyroid gland problem if they are overweight, although most commonly the excessive weight is due to poor diet and lack of exercise.

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How Is Pediatric Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed

will review your child’s symptoms, take their medical history and perform a full physical exam. We will confirm the diagnosis with blood tests to check your childs thyroid hormone levels and their thyroid-stimulating hormone level. If your child has hyperthyroidism, the tests will likely show a low level of thyroid-stimulating hormone from the brain, and high levels of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 from the thyroid gland.

We may order further tests to find the cause of the hyperthyroidism. These may include blood tests to check for thyroid-stimulating antibodies that can cause Graves’ disease. We may also use thyroid imaging to check the function of the thyroid gland. Imaging tests may include a thyroid or a radioiodine scan, in which we use a special scanner to detect how radioactive iodine collects in your child’s thyroid cells.

How Is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed

The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made with a blood test for two hormones:

  • TSH is the most sensitive test for hypothyroidism. TSH is made in the pituitary, a gland at the base of the brain that controls our hormone system. If the thyroid gland is not working, the pituitary releases more TSH to try to get the thyroid to make more thyroid hormones . Less commonly, the thyroid may be normal and it is the pituitary that cannot make enough TSH. This is called central hypothyroidism and may be caused by medications, illness, a brain injury or a mass/tumor near the pituitary.
  • T4 levels measure the amount of the thyroid hormone thyroxine that is in the blood. Often this test will measure the level of free T4 . FT4 is the form that is not attached to a protein and can enter and affect the bodys cells.
  • Thyroid auto-antibodies the immune system makes antibodies against thyroid proteins and the antibody levels may be measured to confirm the diagnosis of Hashimotos. Many patients who have thyroid autoantibodies continue to have normal thyroid hormone levels. In this situation, it may be hard to predict if and/or when the person will need thyroid medication.

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Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Children

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in children is a family history of the disease. Children whose parents, grandparents, or siblings have hypothyroidism are at a higher risk for thyroid disease. This is also true if theres a family history of immune problems that impact the thyroid.

Autoimmune conditions, such as Graves disease or Hashimotos thyroiditis, more commonly appear during puberty. These thyroid conditions more frequently affect girls than boys.

Other common causes of hypothyroidism in children include:

  • not enough iodine in a childs diet
  • being born with a nonfunctional thyroid or without a thyroid gland
  • improper treatment of a mothers thyroid disease during pregnancy

Symptoms Of Thyroid Conditions

Symptoms of Thyroid Problems in Children

The symptoms of thyroid conditions depend on the type of problem, including whether it causes too much or too little thyroid hormone.

Some children with thyroid conditions have no symptoms.

  • Overactive thyroid symptoms

    Children with too much thyroid hormone may:

  • Be more nervous, agitated or emotional than usual
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Lose weight even though they seem to be eating enough
  • Sweat more than normal
  • Have heart palpitations
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have diarrhea

Overactive thyroid can make the thyroid get bigger. An enlarged thyroid is called a goiter. A goiter may be small and not cause any symptoms, or it may cause:

  • Swelling at the front of the neck, on both sides or only 1 side, that you can see or feel
  • Pressure or tightness in the neck or throat if the goiter is very large. This might affect how your child swallows or breaths, cause coughing or make your child hoarse.
  • Underactive thyroid symptoms

    Children with too little thyroid hormone may:

  • Seem sluggish or have low energy
  • Be depressed
  • Start gaining weight even though they have not changed their eating or exercise
  • Thyroid nodule

    Thyroid nodules do not usually cause symptoms. They may cause a lump in the neck that you, your child or a healthcare provider can feel. See information on thyroid cancer symptoms.

  • Overactive parathyroid symptoms

    Overactive parathyroid glands can cause high levels of calcium in the blood, which can lead to these symptoms:

  • Feeling tired, weak and not well overall
  • Having kidney stones
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    What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism

    Thyroid hormone has important effect on almost every organ in the body, including the brain, heart, bone, skin, and intestinal tract. In hyperthyroidism, excessive amounts of thyroid hormone can cause symptoms from any of these organs. Excess thyroid hormone increases metabolism and can cause weight loss, sweating, and a rapid heartbeat. It can also affect your childs mood and ability to concentrate, making them nervous, irritable, and anxious. In infants, too much thyroid hormone can result in developmental delay.

    Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:

    • difficulty gaining weight
    • always feeling hot
    • trembling of the hand

    How Doctors May Not Get It

    Aching legs?? Oh theyre just growing pains?.Constipation?? Oh thats normal in children?.Food intolerances?? She might grow out of it?.Fatigue?? Shes probably just about to have a growth spurt?.

    Sound familiar? These were the early warning signs that something wasnt quite right with our daughter, and the excuses used to fob us off. It wasnt until she ended up in hospital just after her 8th birthday after not passing a bowel movement in over a month that they took my concerns seriously. Thats when she was finally diagnosed with Hashimotos.

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