Thyroid disfunction is fairly rare in children, but if you have a family history of autoimmune thyroid conditions (Graves or Hashimoto’s) or your child has compromised detoxification mechanisms, it’s a good idea to know what the symptoms or over- or under-active thyroid look like in kids. Since these symptoms are different than those exhibited by adults, many children aren’t diagnosed with thyroid disfunction until adulthood. This can lead to issues with brain development, normal growth, and immune system function.

Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) is much more common in children with compromised detox mechanisms. A family history of Hashimoto’s can also put a child at risk for hypothyroidism. The following symptoms may indicate hypothyroidism:

• Slow or no growth

• Dry skin

• Cold hands and feet

• Dry, brittle, or thin hair/hair loss

• Low body temperature

• Joint pain or weakness

• Constipation or colitis

• Frequently tired

• Difficulty focusing

• Forgetfulness

• Irritability

• Depressed mood

• Poor handwriting

Over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism) in children usually results from too high of a dose of thyroid hormone used to treat hypothyroidism. Graves disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (can swing back and forth between hypo and hyperthyroidism) may also cause hyperthyroidism. The following symptoms may indicate hyperthyroidism:

• Rapid pulse

• Shaky arms or hands

• High body temperature

• Poor appetite

• Hyperactivity

• Jittery

• Insomnia

If your child is experiencing these symptoms and other possible causes have been ruled out, it’s a good idea to check thyroid function. To check for thyroid disfunction, you’ll need to have bloodwork done; although, things like temperature monitoring or hair testing may reveal a higher likelihood of thyroid disfunction. Work with your healthcare practitioner to order labs or use True Health labs, ZRT laboratories, or Spectracell. Ideally, your thyroid panel should include Free and Total T3, Free and Total T4, TSH, and Reverse T3. If you have a family history of any autoimmune diseases, you may also wish to periodically test thyroid antibodies.

Your healthcare practitioner can interpret thyroid labs and manage the necessary treatment and follow up. While prescription medication or other medical interventions will be the first line of defense in treating thyroid disfunction, there are nutritional interventions that can also be of assistance in supporting thyroid function, which will allow the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare practitioner to be more effective. Additional testing to check adrenal function and levels of Vitamin D, selenium, and iodine can be done to determine if supplementation is necessary.

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The views expressed in this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition and should not be substituted for medical or nutritional advice.