Thyroid disease is a condition commonly associated with adults. But nervous parents may wonder: can babies and young children get thyroid disease, too? Below, we provide a brief overview of thyroid disease and discuss the likelihood of kids getting it.
What’s the Thyroid, and What’s Thyroid Disease?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine (hormone-producing) gland located in the neck just above the collarbones. The thyroid releases two hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control how quickly and effectively the body’s cells function. If the gland doesn’t produce enough of these hormones, cells slow down, causing many bodily functions to work less effectively. The reverse is also true, and a surplus of these hormones can lead to dangerously over-productive cells.
Thyroid disease is a general term that refers to any condition that causes the thyroid gland to underproduce or overproduce T4 and T3. Examples include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, and Grave’s disease.
Can Kids Have Thyroid Problems?
Thyroid disease is most common in older adults. But it can affect young children as well; in fact, it’s one of the most common endocrine disorders among school-age kids. Babies can also have thyroid problems, and some are even born with them.
Signs of Thyroid Disease in Babies and Children
Are you worried your child might have an issue with their thyroid? Here are some of the most common symptoms of hyper- and hypothyroidism in kids.
Signs of Hyperthyroidism in Kids
- Fast heartbeat
- Large appetite and weight gain
- Wide, bulging eyes
- Excessive sweating
- Problems falling and staying asleep
- Trouble concentrating
- Tremors (especially in the hands)
- Constantly feeling hot
Signs of Hypothyroidism in Kids
- Low energy
- Swollen or puffy face
- Brittle hair and dry skin
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased growth rate
- Muscle soreness
- Constantly feeling cold
Can babies and young children get thyroid disease? Yes, they can, and it’s more common than you’d expect. If you have a family history of thyroid disease or if your child’s exhibiting unusual symptoms, you may want to use an at-home thyroid test to check your child’s hormone levels or contact their pediatrician to discuss the possibility of thyroid disease.