Hypothyroidism in Children


What Is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a disorder that takes place when the body fails to generate the required amount of thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a small gland of butterfly shape in front of the windpipe, and its key function is to generate hormones that help manage the body's metabolism.

Thyroid hormones help in the processes of your digestive system and your heartbeat regulation. Hypothyroidism mainly affects adults over 60 years of age. It is also called an underactive thyroid. Also, hypothyroidism is more common in women than in men. Distinctive symptoms or blood tests can confirm hypothyroidism.

Many bodily systems can be impacted by hypothyroidism. However, with treatment, all of these symptoms could be eased. The severe problems that untreated hypothyroidism may cause include heart diseases and nerve damage. Sometimes, it can even lead to death.

Types of Hypothyroidism in Children

The different types of hypothyroidism may occur in children, including:

Congenital Hypothyroidism

When the thyroid gland cannot develop or function correctly before birth, a disorder known as Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) occurs. It might be brought on by:

  • Dysgenesis of the gland (50–60% of instances)

In 30 to 40% of instances, abnormal thyroid hormone production occurs.

Acquired Hypothyroidism

Acquired hypothyroidism occurs after birth, most commonly in late childhood or teenage years. The thyroid or the pituitary gland can cause hypothyroidism if the gland fails to generate adequate hormones.

While certain hypothyroidism symptoms in older children and teenagers are comparable to those in adults, some exclusively arise in children.

Causes of Hypothyroidism in Children

A family history of the illness is among the most prevalent causes of childhood hypothyroidism. If their grandparents, parents, or siblings have thyroid disease, children are also more likely to have it. This additionally holds if there is a family history of thyroid-related immunological issues.

In adolescence, autoimmune diseases like Graves disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis are most prone to show hypothyroidism symptoms. These thyroid problems affect females more frequently than males.

Some other common causes of pediatric hypothyroidism include the following:

  • Born with no thyroid gland or with a thyroid that is not working properly
  • Not getting enough iodine in their diet
  • Incorrect management of a mother's thyroid condition while she is pregnant
  • Any malfunction in the pituitary

Symptoms and Signs of Hypothyroidism

The hypothyroidism symptoms might mirror those of other illnesses or ailments since they are typically mild and developing. Due to the placental passage of some maternal thyroid hormone, any symptoms that get manifested in newborns may be mild or appear gradually.

However, suppose the root source of hypothyroidism remains, and the condition is not detected or addressed once the maternal thyroid gland hormone has been metabolised.

In that case, it often inhibits the development of the central nervous system slightly to moderately and could be associated with additional symptoms.

Many symptoms are vague and might be ignored since they are considered normal elements of daily living. The issue could therefore be undiscovered for a very long period. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • An intolerance to exercise
  • Decreased response time, a critical concern for drivers
  • Gaining weight
  • Constipation
  • Dry, sparse, and coarse hair
  • Thickened, dry, and coarse skin
  • Slow pulse
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Muscle pain
  • Lacklustre facial expression
  • Hoarse voice
  • Sagging eyelids
  • Floater and enlarged face

How Is Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism Made?

Depending on your child's age and other criteria, your doctor will choose the best diagnosis technique. A physical examination and certain diagnostic tests may typically confirm the diagnosis.

Breathing and swallowing issues might result from goitre or an enlarged thyroid. The physician for your child will examine their neck to check this issue.

The following are some methods for detecting whether a child is suffering from hypothyroidism:

  • Thyroid function screening is a blood test that assesses thyroid hormone levels (thyroxine or T4) and serum TSH. Hypothyroidism is identified when TSH levels and T4 levels are below normal.
  • Anti-thyroid antibody level studies. Unlike the antibodies present in Graves' illness (a kind of hyperthyroidism), these have no use and act as a diagnostic indication.
  • Thyroid ultrasound, which visualises your child's lymph nodes and thyroid using ultrasonic waves. Your child is not subjected to radiation during an ultrasound.
  • Additionally, an ultrasound can be performed to confirm that a child with congenital hypothyroidism has a healthy thyroid.
  • A scan and nuclear medicine reveal how effectively iodine, a crucial component in producing thyroid hormone, is absorbed by your child's thyroid tissue.
  • This test can also be performed for neonates with congenital hypothyroidism to locate thyroid tissue.

How Is Hypothyroidism Treated?

There are several hypothyroidism treatment methods. Some of them are given below:

Levothyroxine is highly effective in treating hypothyroidism. Levothyroxine helps normalise thyroid hormone levels. However, it should be taken as directed by the doctor. Patients of every age, from newborns to adults, can take the medicines.

Rarely, liothyronine (T3) and levothyroxine (T4), if taken simultaneously, may also benefit many patients. You may be consulted about this choice depending on how well your kid responds to T4-only medication and the results of subsequent thyroid hormone laboratory tests.

If a prescription is given for your infant because they have hypothyroidism, you can smash the tablet and mix it with water, breast milk, or formula. Older children can chew or take the medication.

Food might slow down absorption, but it is more crucial to remember to take the tablet at roughly the same moment every single day (morning or evening) rather than fret excessively about taking it empty-handed. When your kid is taking iron or calcium supplements, you ought to prevent giving them thyroid replacement medication.

You can also look for paediatric doctors near me to get the best treatment for hypothyroidism in kids.


Kids who are administered prescribed medicine can experience healthy development and growth. Since thyroid hormone supplementation depends on weight and age, more regular examinations are required while your kid is still physically developing. Thyroid function below average is a frequent issue that may be readily diagnosed and addressed. Although your child must receive lifelong therapy for hypothyroidism, they will enjoy normal lives.