Children and adolescents can be affected by hypothyroidism as well. The symptoms are more or less the same as in adults; however, pay attention to concentration issues, low-grade depression, and weight gain. It is interesting that at puberty, the occurrence of hypothyroidism in girls increases. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in children and adolescents. As a mother, if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you should have your child tested if they start experiencing any symptoms suggesting low thyroid. Research has shown that children and adolescents of mothers diagnosed with hypothyroidism are more likely to be hypothyroid. For a more accurate diagnosis, the upper limit of the normal range for TSH levels should be lower in children and adolescents.
Around 2% of the population’s children is affected by subclinical hypothyroidism. Children with subclinical hypothyroidism may progress towards more severe hypothyroidism and therefore experience delayed growth and slow brain development. It is important to start the child on thyroid medication as early as possible.
Hypothyroidism in newborns (congenital hypothyroidism) may be due to improper or non-existent thyroid gland development or other factors such as iodine deficiency. It is a condition that causes delayed mental and physical development. Screening is typically done a few days after birth to prevent any permanent damage. Treatment with levothyroxine must promptly begin at diagnosis of congenital hypothyroidism. With treatment, the child should normally develop and not suffer any lasting effects.
Decreased thyroid hormone levels in newborn babies can result in delayed growth. These babies are described as small for gestational age and are born with lower T4 levels than healthy infants. For these babies, it is important to begin thyroid medication to normalize their growth rate and prevent more negative effects of hypothyroidism.