Hormonal Imbalance In Children

5 min read

Balance is an important factor that sustains the world. This balance itself is the reason we lead our life beautifully. When the balance is tampered with problems arise.
This is relevant to your child’s body too.
Hormonal imbalance in kids

  • The Endocrine System And Its Glands
  • What Causes Hormonal Imbalance In Children?
  • What Conditions Can Arise Due To Hormonal Imbalance In Balance

The Endocrine System And Its Glands

Growth, development, moods and even character formation of your child depends on his endocrine system. Endocrine system consists of nine glands:

  • Pituitary gland
  • Thyroid gland
  • Pancreas
  • Adrenal gland
  • Testes / ovaries
  • Thymus
  • Parathyroid
  • Penial
  • Hypothalamus

Each of these glands produces specific hormones which have a vital part in your child’s life. From sleeping to cell repair, from appetite to metabolism, from blood pressure to pain regulation, everything is highly influenced by the hormones. Keeping the right level of hormone in the blood stream is important for the daily body functions.
The critical task of regulating hormones by the endocrine system can be hampered due to various reasons. This will result in releasing a particular hormone too much or too little than the required level. These ups and downs of hormonal levels create what may be termed as ‘hormonal imbalance’ in children. Often the diseases that arise due to hormonal imbalances are passed off as other reasons. For example, obesity is always connected with unhealthy diet when the original culprit is the imbalanced hormone.

What Causes Hormonal Imbalance In Children?

There is a perfect feedback system for the endocrine glands that signals when there are slight changes in the hormone level so that it can be regulated fast and maintain the hormonal balance. Psychological issues and health issues may effect this feedback system resulting hormonal imbalance.
Some of the health issues that cause hormonal imbalance in children are:

    • Infection of an endocrine gland
    • Failure of a gland to activate another gland to produce hormones. For example, the failure of the hypothalamus gland can hinder the production of the growth hormone which is produced by the pituitary gland
    • Tumor of an endocrine gland: Most of the tumors that occur in endocrine gland are non-cancerous, but they will meddle with the hormone production of that gland
    • Hereditary is an important reason behind hormonal imbalance in children
    • Injury to an endocrine gland will affect its hormone production

Psychological causes include stress and strain they face in day to day life

What Conditions Can Arise Due To Hormonal Imbalance In Balance

Hormonal imbalance has a far-reaching effect in growing children. During these days, the hormonal imbalance is found to increase among the children. Some of the psychological issues that arise due to the hormonal imbalance among children includes anxiety, hyper activity, mood swings, poor social habits inability to concentrate etc.

Health Issues That Arise Due To Hormonal Imbalance In Children
    1. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes: In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Without insulin the glucose (formed as the result of breaking down of sugar) in the blood can’t be absorbed by the body cells resulting in high blood sugar level. This is caused when the insulin producing cells of the pancreas (islets) are destroyed due to some reasons.
      In type 2 diabetes, even if insulin is produced by the pancreas, the body fails to assimilate it (insulin resistance) results in high blood sugar level. Or the insulin produced by the pancreas won’t be sufficient to maintain the normal blood sugar level
    2. Delayed puberty: In girls, puberty starts around 8 years and definitely before 13 years. Usually, they get their first period after 3 to 4 years of the first sign of puberty – developing breast and under-arm hair. No breast development by the age of 13 and no periods by the age of 16 are the sign of delayed puberty.
      In boys, puberty starts between nine and fourteen years old. Signs of puberty in boys are deepened voice, facial hair, testicle and penis get larger and muscle development. No enlargement of the testicle by the age of 14 and absence of the facial hair are the sign of delayed puberty in boys. Problems in pituitary or thyroid gland are the major reasons behind delayed puberty

Hormone illustration

  1. Precocious puberty: On set of puberty at unusually early stage – in girls before 8 years and in boys before 10 years – is called precocious puberty. Usually, brain releases a hormone called Gn-RH (Gonadotropin Release Hormone). This hormone stimulate the pituitary gland to release two hormones – LH and FSH. These hormones are responsible for the production of sex hormones. When this chain is disturbed the chances of over production of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) by respective glands will increase. Excessive production of sex hormones is the main reason behind Precocious puberty. Read our piece on early puberty in girls here
  2. Gigantism: Sometimes overproduction of growth hormone by pituitary gland results in the abnormal growth of body parts resulting in gigantism
  3. Cushing’s syndrome: This syndrome is also called hyper cortisolism as this is caused due to abnormally high level of cortisol (a steroid hormone secreted by adrenal glands.) in the body of the child. Over use of corticosteroid medicines is the main reason of Cushing’s syndrome
  4. Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism as the name indicates happens due to the over acting of thyroid gland results in releasing too much thyroid hormones to the blood stream of the child. A child with this disorder shows trouble in sleeping and concentrating, the wide eye that bulged out, more appetite yet low weight
  5. Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism as the name indicates happens when the thyroid gland is underactive and cannot release enough thyroid hormones to the blood stream of the child. A child with this disorder always feels tired. They feel cold when the temperature of the room is normal to everyone else in the room. Loss of hair, dry skin and constipation are other symptoms
  6. Obesity: There are several hormones that cause obesity in children:
    • When the growth hormone level is low in blood the metabolism (burning calories) is affected resulting in obesity
    • Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells. This reduces child’s appetite by acting with the brain. The children with obesity, for some reason, doesn’t feel full after a good meal in spite of their leptin level being higher
    • Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin imbalance is found to trigger obesity. Click here to read more about obesity in children
  7. Growth hormone imbalance: Growth hormone deficiency is associated with the pituitary gland. When pituitary gland secretes less growth hormone or no growth hormones at all results in:
    • Low growth speed
    • Delayed tooth development
    • Looking younger than other children of same age
    • Increased fat around the waist area
  8. Hormonal disorder due to genetic reasons includes the following:
    • Turner syndrome: This syndrome is found in girls. This condition occurs when the girl is born with only one X chromosome instead of XX chromosome. Girls with this syndrome have underdeveloped ovaries. This will affect the sexual development and ability to have children. Physical features that make a girl with turner syndrome different from a normal girl are:
      • Low hairline
      • Webbed neck
      • Shorter than other girls of same age
      • Broad chest with widely placed nipple
      • Large number of moles
      • Develops learning difficulties
    • Klinefelter syndrome: This syndrome is found in boys. This is the condition occur when the boy is born with an extra X-chromosome. Instead of normal XY sex chromosome, the boy will have XXY sex chromosome. The low testosterone (male hormone) level is the main symptom. When compare to other kids of his age the boy with klinefelter syndrome will be:
      • Less muscular
      • Less facial and body hair
      • Smaller testes
      • Female pattern of fat distribution
      • Girlish voice
      • Shy, sensitive, and less active than other boys

Treatment of hormonal imbalance in children depends up on several factors like severity, causes etc. Only an endocrinologist could suggest an appropriate treatment. So consult a pediatric endocrinologist as soon as you doubt a hormonal imbalance in your child. Anyway good exercise or practicing yoga along with medication will increase the results.

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