Thyroid Disorders

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Thyroid issues in children often are very treatable with medication, and some resolve on their own over time.

Specialized care for kids with diabetes, thyroid conditions and other endocrinology concerns. Contact us with your pediatrician’s referral.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate how a child’s body uses energy. These hormones affect just about every organ in the body, including the heart and how it beats.

Thyroid issues in children arise when the thyroid produces too many or too few hormones. An overactive thyroid causes hyperthyroidism. When it doesn’t produce enough hormones, the condition is hypothyroidism.

Imbalances in hormone levels can affect heart rate, blood pressure, energy, metabolism and body temperature. The hormones produced by the thyroid also help with a child’s brain development and growth. Sometimes the thyroid becomes enlarged or develops lumps, called nodules.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can make the thyroid larger than normal. An enlarged thyroid gland can be felt under the skin as a lump in the front of the neck. When it is large enough to see easily, it’s called a goiter.

In most cases an enlarged thyroid or nodules aren’t a symptom of a serious condition and are rarely cancer. Thyroid cancer is uncommon in children and typically responds very well to treatment.

A medical illustration shows the position of the thyroid

If you notice any change in your child’s thyroid, make an appointment to see your pediatrician.

Thyroid disorder symptoms may be present from birth or develop as a child grows. With proper treatment, most thyroid disorders can be successfully managed in children.  

If your pediatrician suspects a thyroid condition, your child will be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist. An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in caring for organs and glands that make hormones. At Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, your child will be treated by one of the best programs in the country for endocrinology and diabetes care, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Treatments can vary depending on the condition and child’s age. We will work with you to create a care plan that is as unique as your child.

Hypothyroidism Versus Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism refers to the production of too many hormones made in the thyroid gland. When not enough hormones are produced, the condition is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism.

The two conditions can be vastly different, but they also can have overlapping symptoms. For example, both types of thyroid disease can enlarge the thyroid gland.

Too much hormone causes metabolism to go up. Severe hyperthyroidism can progress to an especially dangerous “thyroid storm.”

Too little hormone allows the metabolism to slow down. Untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to a serious complication called a thyroid coma.

Pediatric Thyroid Care at Norton Children’s Endocrinology

  • Voted No. 23 pediatric diabetes and endocrinology program in the country by physicians in the U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.
  • Once your family pediatrician makes a referral, our large team of board-certified endocrinologists and advanced practice providers can ensure you don’t have to wait long for an appointment.
  • Diagnostic testing is available at the Novak Center for Children’s Health and Norton Children’s Hospital, making imaging, lab work, nuclear medicine thyroid scans and other tests more convenient for you.
  • A multidisciplinary care team brings together specialists from other medical fields and offers comprehensive services, including genetic testing, imaging, thyroid fine-needle aspiration, biopsies, radioactive ablation and endocrine cancer surgery.
  • Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Keep up with your child’s lab results, communicate with your provider, schedule appointments and get alerted if an earlier appointment becomes available with Norton MyChart.

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