Hypothyroidism

Overview

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which can result in slowing down of the body processes. In children this can mean slower growth and delayed puberty. Hypothyroidism in children is generally quite rare.

Cause

Hypothyroidism can be the result of a congenital disorder, meaning it is present from birth. It is known as an endocrine disorder, the result of a hormone imbalance. It can also occur later in some children as the result of an autoimmune disorder.

Symptoms

Hypothyroidism leads to a decreased rate of growth causing lower than average height. As thyroid hormone is lacking, this can slow many processes within the body, potentially leading to slow heart rate, sparse hair growth and slow bowel movements

Diagnosis

Hypothyroidism present at birth is usually picked up during routine assessments; however, it can occur later in some children as the result of an autoimmune disorder. Hypothyroidism is usually diagnosed with a blood test to test for levels of thyroid hormone.

Little girl typing numbers on calculator

Growth calculator

It is important to keep track of your child’s growth in order to identify if there is a problem early on. We recommend measuring your child every 6 months, which is now easier, with our simple to use growth calculator.

Male and female patients waiting in corridor of medical centre

Talking to your doctor about child growth

If you are concerned about your own or your child’s growth, you should speak to a doctor. This section will help you with what questions to ask, so that you can be prepared.

Related

Idiopathic short stature (ISS)

ISS is a term used to cover a wide range of conditions that are associated with short stature. Idiopathic generally refers to a condition which arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown. These conditions are difficult to diagnose and are often caused by unknown genetic factors.

Turner syndrome (TS)

TS is one of the most common types of growth failure and short stature in girls and women, affecting 25–50 per 100,000 females. On average, girls with TS tend to reach an adult stature that is 20 cm less than target height. Other developmental problems may also occur leading to significant challenges for the girl’s health and wellbeing.