Understand the thyroid’s role in regulating hormones and growth and common thyroid issues in children

Thyroid issues are often associated with adults, and many parents are surprised to learn that thyroid problems are the most common endocrine disorder among school-age kids. It's estimated that nearly 37 out of 1,000 children have thyroid disease.

An expert from Children's HealthSM explains the role of the thyroid in the body and the most common types of thyroid conditions in children.

What does the thyroid do?

The thyroid is a small but powerful gland in the neck. Many providers describe its location as right where a bow tie would sit in front of the neck, below the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland sends out thyroid hormones to all the cells in the body. These hormones play an important role in supporting and regulating growth, puberty and many other body functions.

What are common thyroid problems in children?

The two most common thyroid problems in children are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Other, less common thyroid issues in children also include thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules.

Hypothyroidism in children

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesn't send out enough hormones to the body. Thyroid hormones regulate many of the body's functions, including the body's metabolism. When there aren't enough hormones, systems in the body can start to slow down.

 

How thyroid disorders are diagnosed in kids.