Infant Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is common among adults and elderly individuals, especially among women, however; it can occur in anyone, even among infants and children. Some babies may be born without a thyroid gland and they certainly will develop hypothyroidism. Initially infants born without thyroid gland or an inactive or underactive thyroid gland may not show any symptoms of hypothyroidism or may have only few vague symptoms, if any.

Initially, infants with absent thyroid gland or inactive/underactive thyroid gland may show following symptoms:

  • There may be jaundice (skin becomes yellowish as well as white part of the eyes). Jaundice occurs, if infant’s liver cannot metabolize bilirubin, which may require, thyroid hormones for proper metabolism. Accumulation of bilirubin in blood leads to development of jaundice. Bilirubin is produced when red blood cells are broken down in normal process of red cell recycling.
  • Puffiness of face (although most infants have generally puffy face, in presence of hypothyroidism, puffiness of face is more prominent)
  • Frequent choking may occur
  • Tongue may be larger than normal and protruding
  • Trouble in feeding
  • Retardation of growth and development of infant
  • Constipation, excessive sleepiness and poor muscle tone may also be present in infants with hypothyroidism.
  • If hypothyroidism is not treated in time and adequately, the infant may have severe mental and physical retardation

Hypothyroidism in children:

Children and teenagers with hypothyroidism usually have same symptoms of hypothyroidism as adults have. Additionally they may have following signs and symptoms:

  • Short stature, due to poor physical growth
  • Delayed puberty
  • Poor IQ and poor mental development
  • Delay in appearance/development of permanent teeth

It is important to know signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, especially the early signs and symptoms. When you suspect you or your child has symptoms of hypothyroidism, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will ask you to perform thyroid function test (which is hopefully easily available and can be done in almost every lab) and diagnosis can be easily made with help of thyroid function test and signs and symptoms and treatment can be started immediately after confirmation of diagnosis. If hypothyroidism is diagnosed in infants and children, your need to do thyroid function test more often to adjust the dose of medications prescribed. Hopefully, with adequate treatment, hypothyroidism can be easily managed and complications of hypothyroidism prevented.

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