Most people assume that thyroid problems only happen to adults but thyroid problems in children is more common than you think. Another popular misconception can be that an overweight or obese child actually has problems with the thyroid, when they really don’t. The real problem could possibly be eating an unhealthy diet with little or no exercise. The only way to know if a child has thyroid problems is to visit the family pediatrician and to learn as much as you can about thyroid problems in children.
There can be other signs of this problem, besides being overweight. A pediatrician can perform a simple test called a thyroid stimulating test or a TSH, if he notices these signs. If the child does have thyroid problems, he should be checked out right away. The quicker the doctor finds out about the thyroid problem, the easier it is to address. There are certain specific types of conditions that are only seen in children that cause these problems.
Congenital hypothyroidism happens when a baby is in the womb. This condition means that a child is born with partial or complete loss of function when it comes to the thyroid gland. The gland is located on the lower neck and it produces hormones that regulate growth. The thyroid has a role in brain development and it also regulates metabolism. This congenital hypothyroidism means that the thyroid gland isn’t fully developed. It can be completely absent or located in a different area. If the thyroid is reduced in size this is called hypoplastic. Usually in this case, the thyroid will not produce hormones and this can lead to learning disabilities and abnormal growth patterns. Every child should be tested for this condition shortly after birth. If a child with this condition is treated quickly, they can fully develop normally.
Transient congenital hypothyroidism is another problem that can cause thyroid problems in children. This condition is also usually seen in the mother who passes the thyroid problem onto the child. Some of the symptoms of this disease are constipation and a bloated stomach, little or no growth, a swollen tongue or puffy face and a lack of energy. It may be unclear to the doctor if the condition is permanent or temporary. So he will administer drugs for a period of time until improvement is seen. After this process, he will slowly reduce the amount of drugs given to see if the child will continue to have problems.
Acute suppurative thyroiditis happens because of a bacterial infection in the thyroid gland. This condition is seen in more children than adults and the symptoms are an enlarged thyroid gland accompanied by a severe fever and chills. The gland itself can become inflamed and filled with pus. The condition can be helped by giving the child antibiotics until the problem ceases.
Thyroid cancer can happen at any age but it is seen more frequently in women than in men. A nodule forms on the thyroid gland but usually there are no other symptoms. A large percentage of these nodules are not considered cancerous but some are. The chronic symptoms include a hoarseness of the voice and neck pain. The doctor can insert a needle into the nodule and run tests to see if it is cancerous. This is called a biopsy. The good news is that this type of cancer can be cured, especially in younger patients. A doctor can remove the offending nodule and part of the thyroid gland and 97% of young people who have this condition can recover completely.
If you think your child may be experiencing thyroid problems in children, he should be seen by a doctor immediately.