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Hypothyroidism In Children: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

5 min read

Hypothyrodism In Children
At the time, when children play and enjoy their childhood to the fullest, there are some children who have to fight against several hazardous issues such as Hypothyroidism that restricts the normal growth and development of the child. Children tend to exhibit a very slow growth, limited metabolism along with an all-time fatigue.
With that being said, let’s understand how this fatal disease takes place in children and some natural ways to prevent it. However, we shall begin with some introduction to the Thyroid Gland.

What Is The Thyroid Gland And Why Is It Important?

Thyroid Gland is a part of our Endocrine system located near our neck region. It is a ductless gland and has a shape of a butterfly. It is well-known to produce two essential hormones namely, Thyroxine (T4) as well as Triiodothyronine (T3) which are responsible for promoting overall growth in Children. They play a vital role in maintaining heart rate, proper brain development and also in synchronizing the working of all the body organs.

What Is Hypothyroidism?

When the thyroid gland becomes incapable of producing ample amount of hormones that will regulate the body functioning in a systematic manner, the condition of Hypothyroidism occurs. Also, the low production of the other hormones or the high growth of the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) that occurs in the pituitary gland leads to this situation.

What Are The Types Of Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism persists in 4 types in children:

  1. Congenital Hypothyroidism:In this type, the child is born with an absent/abnormal or under-developed thyroid gland. Also, in some cases the thyroid gland is present however, there is some defect in the production of the thyroid hormones.
  2. Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis: In this type, the child’s thyroid gland starts to dysfunction after a few years of normal functioning. It is said that the immune system damages the gland’s functionality by attacking the gland (autoimmune disorder).
  3. Iatrogenic Hypothyroidism: In this situation, the thyroid gland is surgically removed or eroded by taking some medications. Therefore, the thyroid gland permanently (in case of surgical removal of the gland) or temporarily (in case of reversible damage of the thyroid gland induced by drugs) stops producing thyroid hormones.
  4. Central Hypothyroidism: In this type, the thyroid gland gets hurt by Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH due to the inheritance, trauma or a tumor occurring in the body. Moreover, this may also be caused by some hormonal deficiencies.

Who Are At The Risk Of Developing Hypothyroidism?

  • If the child fails to have adequate iodine in his or her diet
  • If the child’s mother has untreated thyroid issue during pregnancy.
  • If the child has congenital issues with thyroid gland (or born without thyroid gland)
  • A child having an abnormal pituitary gland

Causes Of Hypothyroidism

Following are some main causes that lead to hypothyroidism in children:

  • Heredity Factors: Hypothyroidism runs in the family. If you have a family history of hypothyroidism, your children pose an increased chance to contract it.
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis refers to the temporary inflammation of the thyroid gland bring about by microbes, drugs, or radiation (done in the neck). This can lead to over or underproduction of the thyroid hormones in children.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: If the child has some autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s disease, his or her WBC s and antibodies will by mistake attack the thyroid cells leading to hypothyroidism.
  • Iodine Deficiency: Deficiency of Iodine makes the Thyroid gland functioning low. This is because Iodine is the major component of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4
  • Damage To Pituitary Gland: If due to some reasons the pituitary gland of the child is injured, it cannot send signals to the brain regarding the amount of the hormone to be produced. Therefore the thyroid gland may fail to produce enough hormones.

Hypothyroidism will never be detected at one go and one will have to check for symptoms.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism?

There are different symptoms of Hypothyroidism in children, some of them are given below:

  • Slow Mental Growth, Heart rate, and Speech
  • Short height of children of the same age
  • Short limbs
  • Slow in mental development
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Late Puberty
  • Gain More Weight
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Dry skin
  • More sleep
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Puffiness in face
  • High fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Increased size of the Thyroid gland
  • Low Body metabolism
  • Extremely sensitive to cold

Once you recognize such symptoms in your child’s growth, be quick in taking them to the doctor for a checkup.

How Is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?

To check for Hypothyroidism in your child, the doctor would ask for an immediate blood test to analyze hormone level in the bloodstream. This test will easily diagnose the low thyroxine (T4) and high TSH levels in the blood to claim Hypothyroidism. Also, the Anti-thyroid antibody test is done to check the antibodies levels and if they are high then, it indicates autoimmune hypothyroidism. Even Ultrasound brings the clear picture of the thyroid gland and the lymph nodes. It is helpful in easy detection of hypothyroidism.

Treatment Of Hypothyroidism In Children

As hypothyroidism indicates insufficiency in the thyroid hormones, daily hormone therapy is the key to treat this condition. The doctor will provide a pill named levothyroxine.  The dose is determined based on the age of the child and the intensity of the condition. This pill is taken once a day on an empty stomach at about half an hour prior to the meal. Within a week after your child is under the medication, you will be able to see the difference. As Hypothyroidism is happening due to the iodine deficiency, it is essential to add more iodine-rich foods to the diet of your child.

Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid In Hypothyroidism

The child suffering from Hypothyroidism must be provided with more of Iodine-rich foods such as Fish, dairy, eggs, iodine salt etc. Also, ensure the consumption of the given foods to avoid this condition.
Given below are some foods that must be included in Hypothyroidism:

  • Brazil nuts, legumes, and Tuna Fish are rich in Selenium which is helpful in activating thyroid hormones.
  • Milk, yoghurt, and Fruits like Banana, Oranges etc.
  • High Sea-food like Shrimps, salmon etc.
  • More Zinc-rich Food such as Oysters, Chicken, beef or shellfish.

Given below are some foods that must be avoided in Hypothyroidism:

  • Soy products such as Tofu
  • Vegetables such as Spinach, Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli
  • Different Fruits like strawberries, peaches, cassava
  • Excess Nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts etc.

What Are The Possible Complications Of Hypothyroidism?

Untreated hypothyroidism paves a way to many health complications are not good for a long time. Some of them are given below:

  • Increased risk of Many Heart diseases
  • Increased risk of severe Depression and mental illness
  • Risk of Myxedema (skin swelling)
  • Delayed puberty and sexual features
  • Reduced Fertility or Infertility later in life
  • Peripheral neuropathy

This disease requires a proper treatment that goes for a long-term so that there is no damage to the overall development of the children.
Hypothyroidism is a critical condition which must be treated on time to alleviate any damage to the child’s body growth. So, to avoid any further complications, it is essential to take proper preventive measures that help in controlling this condition. Along with this, you need to include proper dietary supplements that provide proper nourishment to the body.

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