The signs and symptoms of congenital hypothyroidism are seldom apparent at birth. However, delay in treatment of a congenitally hypothyroid infant can cause irreversible brain damage. Neonatal thyroid screening has led to a marked reduction in cretinism (mental retardation and short stature due to hypothyroidism) and untreated hypothyroidism in newborns.
Acquired Childhood Hypothyroidism
Although the development of hypothyroidism in a child before puberty is uncommon, it does occur, especially if there is a family history of thyroid disease. A child’s doctor needs to know if either the mother or father has a hereditary autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease. The doctor will then pay particular attention to the child’s thyroid examination. The first signs that a child has hypothyroidism may be thyroid enlargement and a decline in growth rate. Most short children, however, do not have hypothyroidism. Tests for hypothyroidism are frequently performed on children who are overweight, but hypothyroidism does not cause obesity. Diagnosing and treating hypothyroid children before puberty is somewhat more complicated than diagnosing and treating hypothyroid teens and adults. Children’s growth and development must be carefully monitored. In childhood, the normal range for TSH and free T4 varies with age. Levothyroxine dosage must be adjusted more frequently in growing children than in teenagers or mature adults. For all these reasons, pediatric endocrinologists are usually consulted in the management of hypothyroid infants or children. Once hypothyroid children have gone through puberty and growth has ceased, treatment is essentially the same as that of adults.
Children with Hyperthyroidism
Although hyperthyroidism is uncommon before puberty, it does occur, especially if there is a family history of thyroid disease. The two most common causes of childhood hyperthyroidism are neonatal hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease. Approximately one out of 100 babies born to mothers with Graves’ disease develops transient neonatal hyperthyroidism. This hyperthyroidism is the result of thyroid-stimulating antibodies (TSAb or TSI) crossing the placenta and stimulating a newborn’s thyroid gland.
Neonatal hyperthyroidism is temporary and lasts until the baby metabolizes, or uses up, its mother’s TSAb or TSI. The signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism in children are similar to those seen in adults with hyperthyroidism. However, the first sign that children are hyperthyroid may be a decline in their grades.
The treatment options for hyperthyroid children are also the same as those for adults. Treating hyperthyroid children with antithyroid drugs before puberty is more complicated than treating hyperthyroid teens and adults.
Dealing with Neonatal Hypothyroidism
Congenital hypothyroidism is the other name given to neonatal hypothyroidism. It is given this name due to the fact that it is known to affect children as early as they are born or comes up at some brief period thereafter. This condition comes with other conditions to it like problems with the child’s proper development it terms of the way they stand, there speech, and also hearing. As much as this condition seems fatal it should be known that is can be contained is proper measures are taken. Below are some of the known ways of dealing with neonatal hypothyroidism.
What you will need
- Doctor with access to screening
- Hospital blood tests
The firsts step to take to deal with hypothyroidism is to ensure that the body has the right amounts of iodine as recommended. These steps should happen as early as when the mother is pregnant, meaning the mother should ensure they consume food stuffs that will maintain the right iodine levels at all times during pregnancy.
It is easier to deal with hypothyroidism if it is detected early. This means therefore that it will be better to watch for the symptoms of this condition on the baby from the time they are delivered. If the child demonstrates poor feeding habits, they have abdominal protrusion or an extended belly and hypothermia then the possibility of the baby having hypothyroidism is high.
In instances where the baby doesn’t start gaining weight as is expected after birth or have extremely dry skin, you should have them screened for neonatal hypothyroidism. Other signs too look for are constipation, an umbilical hernia, inactivity or poor respiration. It is possible to miss the condition if you test immediately after birth as the child usually has some hormones from the mother covering for them. Emphasis is placed in early detection as this is the best time to deal with the condition and come up with good results that might mean leading normal lives. If the readings from your first test seem a little weird it is best to follow it up with a T4 serum test.
Be sure to ask for the right treatment when your child is diagnosed with neonatal hypothyroidism. Request for Levothyroxine one of the artificial hormones that are used to balance the hormones in the body. When doing these hormone therapy tablets are recommended to liquids.
You could also use the thyrosine sodium hormone replacement therapy till a child picks up normal growth patterns.
Performing ultrasound and any other image-based diagnosis can also be sued to confirm previous tests.
Signs of Hypothyroidism in Infants
Detecting early signs of hypothyroidism is important in children. It is believed that one out of every four thousand children is affected by hypothyroidism, the condition known to occur due to thyroid glands that are either producing les or no thyroid hormone at all. Normally working thyroids are needed for proper child development and well-being. This therefore necessitates the need to thorough check up of children to ensure that they are hypothyroidism free. The good thing is that when the condition is detected early measures can be taken to contain it and thus have the child grow normally without major complication that they would otherwise have to succumb to.
- Skin and Hair
Simple symptoms like one having very abnormally cold feet and hands even when warmly dressed are signs of hypothyroidism.
There is also the nature of the child’s hair. A child with hypothyroidism will have hard hair that will tend to grow towards the forehead. The skin of the baby will also show signs of being too dry than normal. The skin will not only appear dry but it will also change in color to a near yellow color.
The child will be extra chubby. This means they will have extra fat on their chicks. It is however not easy to pick this out as most babies will tend to be like this when young.
The extra fat will also appear on the belly of the baby and this is where you will be able to differentiate the two forms of chubbiness. It is easy for one to mistake this with the child taking too much that required but if you are keen enough you will notice that the child’s appetite is not as good during this condition. The thing that will help you better with the self diagnosis will be the look of the skin of the child. Loose skin that is almost flaps is the sure sign.
- Persistent Constipation
If you notice that the child has difficulties in his or her bowel movements then this should be your cue.
A baby with hypothyroidism will be constipated almost all the time. The clear indicator will be the non response to any constipation remedies given. The stomach will also be too full for any normal child sometimes it will also be inflated.
A child with the condition will not be as active as they usually are at this age. They will look rather tired and that should your sign of hypothyroidism as children rarely get tired.