If you are of the opinion that hypothyroidism struck people above the age of 50 only, you are definitely in for a revelation. Did you know that hypothyroidism can strike even newborns and children? For understanding hypothyroidism, you need to first know what a thyroid gland is and what are its functions? Located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple, thyroid gland is a thermostat of the body. It controls many of your body’s systems, such as metabolism, growth and organ function. Wrong functioning of the thyroid gland can affect the heart rate, cholesterol levels, weight, vision, muscle strength, menstrual regularity, mental state and many more functions of the body.
Coming back to hypothyroidism, it is a condition when the thyroid gland of the body does not function properly. This is contradictory to hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gland over-functions. In infants, the condition is termed as congenital hypothyroidism. There is no single cause of hypothyroidism in children. Rare, viral and bacterial infections, excessive iodine, radioactive iodine therapy, thyroid surgery and excessive beam radiation are regarded as some of the causes behind this ailment. Malnourished children are also prone to having the disease. To get detailed information about the causes and symptoms of hypothyroidism in children, browse through the following lines.
Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Children
- Abnormal thyroid gland development is one of the leading causes for hypothyroidism in infants. Babies, in such a condition, are either born without a thyroid gland or have a non-functioning thyroid gland present in their body.
- Though atypical, in abnormal thyroid hormone production, both parents have normal thyroid function, but are carriers for the defective gene. In such a case, chances are that every one in four pregnancies would result in a baby with congenital hypothyroidism.
- The least common cause of permanent congenital hypothyroidism is the abnormal development of the brain or pituitary gland. While some children inherit it from their parents, there are others who show no familial pattern
- Late development of the congenital hypothyroidism is one of the causes of the thyroid disease. In such circumstances, the baby is born with the problem, which becomes apparent only in the later stages. The odds are that these children would have small or poorly formed thyroid glands, which cannot meet the needs and demands of the growing child.
- A lack of iodine in the diet leads to an inability of the body to produce enough thyroid hormone, the result being poor functioning of an apparently normal thyroid gland. This is one of the major reasons for hypothyroidism in children.
- Children diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, when on medication, can develop hypothyroidism. This is mainly because when the drugs inhibit hormone production too much, the child moves from having an overactive thyroid gland to having an under-active one.
- Drugs including lithium and iodine-containing drugs such as amiodarone have the ability to cause hypothyroidism in children, by inhibiting production of thyroid hormone.
Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Pain, stiffness and swelling in joints
- Poor appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarse voice
- Puffed face
- Mood swings
- Slow speech
- Dry skin
- Cold intolerance
- Dry or brittle hair
- Hair loss
- Muscle cramps
- Poor school performance (dropping grades, etc.)
- Delayed development of permanent teeth
- Early or late sexual development
- Frequent choking
- A large, protruding tongue
- Yellowing of the skin & whites of eyes
- Poor mental development