Thyroid disorders are caused by abnormalities in the thyroid gland. This is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the windpipe. Children need thyroid hormones to maintain normal growth and bone development and regulate metabolism. Problems occur when the thyroid makes too much or too little of the thyroid hormones.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is the most common thyroid condition in children. If untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to intellectual disability and growth failure. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common form of hypothyroidism in children and teens. The autoimmune disease causes the body to attack thyroid cells. Treatments include:

  • Medicines to help the thyroid make more hormones
  • Medicines replace missing hormones

Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid is too active and releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. With this condition a child may:

  • Feel the need to be very active
  • Have a fast heartbeat
  • Sweat a lot
  • Does not gain weight or loses weight

Treatments include:

  • Medicines to make less thyroid hormone
  • Rarely surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid when it is too active