Hypothyroidism in children is a condition in which there are not enough thyroid hormones in the body. In this situation, the thyroid gland is said to be under-active because it produces insufficient thyroid hormones required by the body for metabolism.
Though hypothyroidism is more obvious in adults, it can develop at any time in the lifespan. Infants can be born with hypothyroidism and it can also affect small children as well as young adults. It is very difficult to diagnose with children under the age of two but the observed symptoms include trouble feeding and excessive sleepiness.
There are different types of hypothyroidism in children, notable among them are;
This is the most common form of hypothyroidism in infants. It is present from birth, and usually occurs as a result of under-developed thyroid gland. Sometimes the thyroid gland is developed but unable to produce enough thyroid hormones. In rare cases, the thyroid gland is completely absent leading to cretinism.
This is more common among older children and adolescence. The main cause is an autoimmune disease of thyroid gland known as Hashimoto’s disease. It is prevalent among girls than boys.
The followings are some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism in children:
- Poor feeding
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to cold
- Hair loss
- Slow growth
- Puffy face
- Delayed mental development
- Difficulty in learning
- Dry skin
Once your child is diagnosed, treatments should start as early as possible. If hypothyroidism in children is not treated early, it can cause severe problems such as poor mental development. For children under the age of two, it is very difficult to diagnose the symptoms but this can only be detected by conducting blood test.
Treatments usually begin with blood tests and often depend on severity and nature of the disease. Children with hypothyroidism are usually put on synthetic thyroid hormone treatments in form of pill to be taken at least once in a day. This treatment is inexpensive and with no side effects. In severe cases, surgery can be performed.
Generally, parents need to play a significant role in helping children with hypothyroidism. You should be aware of the proper methods to help them cope with the problem. Ensure that their diet is rich in essential trace minerals such as iodine and selenium and be conscious of foods which they should avoid. Also make sure that they engage in regular exercises especially the young adults.
by Willie Aris