Hypothyroidism in Children

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Children and teenagers who develop hypothyroidism typically have the same signs and symptoms as adults do, but they may also experience poor growth, develop their adult teeth later than other children, have delayed puberty and poor mental development.

Other symptoms they may have, that are common for adults with the condition as well, include:

  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Sensitiviy to cold/heat
  • Weight gain, inability to lose weight
  • Constipation and/or wind often
  • Depression
  • Slow movements, speech and thoughts
  • Itchy and/or sore scalp
  • Muscle aches, pains and weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Poor appetite
  • Dry and tight feeling skin
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Numbnes in limbs
  • Brain fog/confusion/memory problems
  • Migraines
  • Hoarse voice
  • A puffy-looking face
  • Thinned or partly missing eyebrows
  • A slow heart rate or one that increases more so than a healthy person’s, after physical activity (e.g. after walking upthe stairs or emptying the washing machine)
  • Hearing loss
  • Anaemia
  • Poor stamina
  • Feeling weak
  • The need to nap more than others
  • Long recovery period after any activity
  • Arms feeling like dead weights after activity
  • Inability to exercise, or withstand certain exercises
  • Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Being overly emotional
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Poor circulation
  • Acid reflux
  • Poor levels of iron
  • Poor levels of B12
  • Poor levels of Vitamin D
  • IBS
  • Hair loss
  • Easy bruising
  • Swollen legs that impeded walking
  • Shin splints
  • Difficulty standing on feet
  • Joint stiffness and pain
  • Osteoporosis

Congenital hypothyroidism is usually tested for at birth. It is a condition resulting from an absent or under-developed thyroid gland, or one that has developed but cannot make enough thyroid hormone, making the child hypothyroid. The term ‘congenital’ means that the condition is present at birth. This can be hereditary and the most common cause of hypothyroidism in children is a family history of the disease. For some babies, their thyroid gland does not form in its normal position in the neck. In others, the gland does not develop at all. And for others, it’s underdeveloped. The National Academy of Hypothyroidism estimates that 1 child in every 2000-4,000 children is born with hypothyroidism. That’s about 3000 a year in the UK according to the BTF.

Most children born with congenital hypothyroidism look ‘normal’ and have no obvious symptoms, which is why it is important that all children are tested at birth.

Some babies with hypothyroidism are sleepy and difficult to feed, although lots of babies have these symptoms without being hypothyroid. Other symptoms in babies may include constipation, low muscle tone and as mentioned about older children, poor growth. As long as it is caught early on and medicated correctly, it shouldn’t greatly impact the child’s life.

Screening is performed at about five days old, with a heel-prick blood test. A small amount of blood is usually tested for just TSH. But they can develop thyroid problems as they get older, so just because they may have had the all clear at birth, it’s worth bearing in mind the symptoms for their later life, too.

Medication is usually needed for life, and it is important that doses aren’t missed. The medication usually given is T4-only, such as Levothyroxine. This may prove less beneficial as the child ages and after a certain age you may consider a straightT3 or T3 and T4 combination.


You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill, Thyroid Patient Expert and Advocate, blogger and author, has Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018, with relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, whilst also currently studying  Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking, Reflexology and more. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.

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