Thyroid disorder in children: Early detection, proper handling to help

Neonates with hypothyroidism can have severe thyroid hormone deficiency without symptoms. Hence, it is pivotal that all babies should be screened for congenital hypothyroidism.
Thyroid disorder in children: Early detection, proper handling to help
Representative image

CHENNAI: The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland situated in our neck. This gland produces important hormones called ‘thyroid hormones’ into the blood circulation. This thyroid hormone is analogous to “salt” in our diet. It is required for all day-to-day activities like blood pumping by the heart, breathing activity of lungs, nervous system activation etc.

In children, the thyroid hormone has two specific roles: physical growth and mental development. Hence, poor growth and retarded development could be early pointers to thyroid hormone deficiency.

Adults with thyroid defects usually require lifelong medications. Children and neonates with hypothyroidism may have permanent thyroid defects (requiring lifelong therapy) or transient hypothyroidism (which requires short term thyroid replacement).

Neonates with hypothyroidism can have severe thyroid hormone deficiency without symptoms. Hence, it is pivotal that all babies should be screened for congenital hypothyroidism. A heel prick measurement of TSH is the birthright of every child. All older children who have poor growth and developmental activities delayed for their age should have a thyroid test performed. The presence of goitre (thyroid swelling) warrants thyroid function testing.

It is considered that cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli should be avoided in individuals with a thyroid swelling, The rationale, however, is not supported by scientific evidence. Hence, a normal healthy diet with age-appropriate calories and proteins is important.

The dose of thyroxine should be adjusted along with the growth of the child.

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