Thyroid problems do not affect the kids as like the adults. Still, there are instances where the kids of younger and older age suffering the thyroid problems. It mostly happens as a result of malnutrition or growth defects while in the womb or the most likely reason, genes. In the majority of the cases, the children who have a hereditary background are a most likely victim of thyroid disorders.
Regular screening of kids for thyroid health can help detect the problem at the earliest. This allows a better quality treatment and helps in minimizing the symptoms.
But how do we know how often do we need to screen the kids? Which kids need the screening or should we do it for all of them? Here are a few categories of kids who need screening better than any other ones.
All Newborns Needs Screening For Thyroid
Regardless of the family background or circumstances, all newborns must be screened for thyroid problems. Since the problems can occur right within the womb, it helps in detecting the problems right away. There is a general practice of screening the kids within 48 hours. The early detection helps determine the thyroid health and the doctors can do the needful to correct them if possible.
The reason for this earlier screening is that babies can be born with a defective thyroid that is underdeveloped. This is a rare case that the thyroid gland completely failing to develop normally. It is called congenial hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Problem – If The Mother Has Grave’s Disease
Having even a single parent with thyroid problem increases the chances of getting the same in the kids. When the mother has the Grave’s disease or the hereditary hyperthyroidism, it can affect the baby as well. The antibodies produced in the mother’s body can pass on to the fetus triggering the baby’s thyroid glands. The baby can also have hyperthyroidism when born. But this situation is reversible and can be treated within a few months after birth.
Only an early screening can detect this problem, asserting the need for newborn babies undergoing the screening for thyroid problems.
If Any Of The Immediate Family Has Thyroid Disorder
Even if the newborns were screened with no thyroid problems, chances are alive if any of the parents has a thyroid disorder. The autoimmune thyroid problems are easily passed from one generation to the next. This may come up only later in the life but usually before adulthood. Children of such parents should be screened regularly.
Even having an affected grandparent or siblings also increases the same threat. So any child who has an immediate family member affected needs to undergo screening.
A Family History Of Hasimoto’s Thyroiditis
Hasimoto’s thyroiditis is the gene related hypothyroidism and the most common of the thyroid problems. This is the common problem that is passed on from generation to generation. Any child who has someone in the near or distant family affected by this problem should undergo the screening until he or she has attained adulthood.
Such cases of hypothyroidism mostly come up in the late childhood or during the late teenage years. Such children must be monitored closely to find any kind of sign or symptom that can hint a thyroid problem. Regular checkups can ensure that their thyroid glands are working healthy or not. They might even need further screenings as this can occur at any age, but the early onset is popularly seen.
Thyroid Problems In Children Is Treatable
All thyroid problems in the kids can be treated effectively. The treatment is the same as adult thyroid problems. There will be thyroid hormone replacement therapy that is given according to the age of the patient. Depending on the severity, it can prolong for longer or be done in a shorter period.
Risk Factors For Auto-Immune Thyroid Problems
While it was a rarity to see a baby affected by auto-immune thyroid problems some 20-25 years back, it is common in these days to find a baby affected with the same. The major reason for the increased number of kids affecting with thyroid problems is the change in lifestyle and environment.
The autoimmune diseases may or may not arise in the lifetime. In the cases where it appears, there would be something that triggers the immune system to act faulty. There are several factors that can trigger the onset of such problems.
Being a girl increases this threat. Statistics show that girls are more vulnerable to thyroid problems, whether it runs in the family or not. A girl child needs more screening than a boy child.
Environment toxins can affect the thyroid functions and the immune system. The damage can be two way with these toxins. The common household items, plastic, cleaning agents, microwaves, baby feeding bottles etc can all emit substances that are harmful to the endocrine system, thyroids or the immune system.
A diet that lacks iodine is another possible way of triggering the thyroid problems. A child who is a picky eater is likely to have less nutrition than a child who has a balanced diet.
Excess iodine in the diet also has damaging effects on the thyroids. It can trigger the hyperthyroidism in many. This is why a balanced diet is more preferable.
A Balanced Screening Is Required
Screening the kids too often is not preferable. Finding the signs and symptoms come first, before the screening. If the kids are going overweight for long or are showing fatigue or feeling tired all the time, it is a sign that something is definitely wrong. In some cases, there may not be any signs or evidence as well.
The key is to find the perfect time and regularity. It comes highly difficult and almost impossible as no signs can be assertive of thyroid problems. Screening the kids once in 2-3 years should suffice unless they show any significant symptoms.
It is important and easier to screen the kids who show lower growth rate or a delay in puberty. Both growth and puberty are dependent on healthy thyroids. While assessing the growth, look for both the height and weight. A child with healthier weight but normal height could have some problems. Moreover, it also depends on the child, family history and the environment they are living in.