Problems with the thyroid gland may actually begin in the womb. If a mother has an autoimmune thyroid disorder, the most common cause of thyroid problems in the U.S., then her unborn child’s thyroid function can also be impaired.
Maternal antibodies produced against a woman’s thyroid can affect her developing child’s thyroid. The mother’s treatments, such as iodine supplementation, can also adversely affect the baby’s thyroid function.
It is essential that newborns and children of mothers with a thyroid problem be screened for low thyroid function.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Infants
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes)
- Hoarse cry
- Poor appetite
- Umbilical hernia (navel protrudes out)
- Slow bone growth
Symptoms of Juvenile Hypothyroidism
- Slower growth, possibly resulting in abnormally short extremities
- Delayed tooth development
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Adolescents
- Slowed growth
- Difficulty focusing, may experience “brain fog”
- Delayed puberty
- Hoarse voice
- Slow speech
- Droopy eyelids
- Puffy and swollen face
- Hair loss or thinning hair
- Dry skin and/or hair
- Slow pulse
- Racing heart
- Weight gain especially in the abdominal area
- Digestive complaints – bloating, abdominal distension, constipation, diarrhea
Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is usually found during routine screening in newborns. Approximately one out of every 4,000 newborns is diagnosed with CH each year. Left untreated in newborns, hypothyroidism can lead to intellectual disability.
Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH), is generally defined by a normal total or free T4 level and a mildly elevated TSH. It is relatively common in children.
When assessing a child for hypothyroidism, the same conditions which can contribute to autoimmune hypothyroidism in adults, should be considered. These include but are not limited to food allergies, leaky gut syndrome or intestinal hyper-permeablity, low HC1 (stomach acid), etc.
A recent study related subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and Type 1 diabetes mellitus ( T1DM) in children and adolescents posed a greater risk of developing cholesterol and cardiovascular problems in adulthood.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 Mar 15;168(4):601-8. doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-0703. Print 2013 Apr.
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University Medical Center Ulm, Ulm, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org