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Information for Parents – Acquired Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in Children

Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid disorder in children. It occurs when the thyroid gland is less active than it has to be and is not able to produce sufficient thyroid hormone to meet the body’s requirements and needs.

1) What Is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease. It causes most cases of hypothyroidism in kids and teens.

2) What Happens in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an ongoing condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Often, this prevents the thyroid from making enough thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism.
  • The body responds to this by sending a message to the thyroid to work harder to make enough hormones. This, and the swelling the immune system causes as it attacks the gland, can make the thyroid get bigger, leading to a goiter.

3) How is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosed?

  • To diagnose hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the doctor asks about the person’s symptoms, perform an exam, and order blood tests to know the underlying cause.
  • Thyroid hormone levels and thyroid antibodies (proteins made by the immune system) are two major aspects of the thyroid. High levels of these antibodies in the blood are a sign that the gland is being attacked by the immune system in Hashimoto’s. The two antibodies commonly measured are thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO).

4) What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

  • A person with mild hypothyroidism may feel just fine. In fact, it might cause no symptoms at all. But if thyroid hormone levels get too low, symptoms can become more obvious. These include: sluggishness, depression, dry skin or hair loss, feeling cold, muscle weakness, poor memory or trouble concentrating, constipation, facial puffiness, weight gain (even when the person is not eating more or exercising less), slowed growth, slow sexual development, irregular menstrual periods in girls.

5) How Are Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Treated?

  • Doctors treat an underactive thyroid with daily thyroid hormone replacement tablets. These will bring the body’s levels of thyroid hormone back to normal. This treatment is fairly simple, but a person will have doctor visits several times a year for an exam, blood tests, and medicine changes as needed.
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