Kate, a 9-year bubbly girl was not herself anymore. She was often exhausted, had frequent headaches, stomach aches, and puffy eyes. Kate’s mother recognized that something was wrong with her and approached a doctor. The doctor ran thyroid tests to screen the level of Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone or TSH and found that it was too high. And, that’s when they knew the child was suffering from Hypothyroidism.

Identifying Hypothyroidism in Children

Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck, doesn’t produce enough of its own hormones to meet the body’s needs. This causes the pituitary gland to release more TSH in an unsuccessful attempt to jump-start the thyroid back into action.

The thyroid hormones are responsible for several important processes including maintaining the basal rate of metabolism, regulating body temperature, brain development and maintaining nervous system functions. In children, hypothyroidism can also cause stunted growth and mental impairment leading to ADHD in some cases.

As children are unable to describe how they feel, it can be difficult to decipher the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Here are some symptoms of hypothyroidism in children:

  • Weight Gain without any Height Gain or Decreased Growth
  • Behavioral Issues, Learning Disabilities
  • Dry Skin, Brittle Hair
  • Puffy Eyes
  • Heavy Voice
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood or Depression
  • Enlarged Goitre or swelling in the neck
  • Delayed Puberty in Teens
  • Irregular Menstrual Periods in Teens

Thyroid and ADHD

Research states that you are more likely to have a thyroid disorder when you have ADHD. This is because brain chemicals are altered by a thyroid disorder. If the thyroid function is weakened, the brain tends to receive fuzzy signals, leading to ADHD in a child.

An article in Clinical Endocrinology stated, “Despite being within the normal range, high TSH concentrations are associated with a lower cognitive function, and high TSH and low free T4 with ADHD symptoms in healthy preschoolers”. The study revealed when TSH records are at the top of the normal range, there is a correlation with the same learning disorders of those who have ADHD.

So, if your child is experiencing learning disabilities or behavioral issues like hyperactivity, weak memory, inability to finish tasks it is recommended to check the thyroid and TSH numbers.

Causes of Hypothyroidism in Children

Hypothyroidism can also occur during the neonatal stage of newborn babies due to genetic factors. Apart from genetic factors, the following causes can also be attributed to hypothyroidism:

  • Hashimoto Disease – this condition is caused by auto-immune disorders and is common in children such as Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Celiac or Type 1 Diabetes
  • Obesity – Mechanisms that may lead to increased TSH levels in children with obesity are mutations in the TSHR gene, functional derangements in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, and thyroid hormone resistance. Also, children may be overweight and not get taller, causing them to develop obesity
  • Iodine Deficiency – As iodine deficiency becomes more severe, TSH further rises, and goiter and overt hypothyroidism can develop
  • Medications and Exposure to Ionizing Radiation – Anti-epileptic drugs and exposure to ionizing radiation during childhood can cause thyroid dysfunction
  • Endocrine Disruptors – Several endocrine disruptors, such as chemicals, food, and consumer products, can interfere with thyroid function by acting on different points of regulation of thyroid hormone

Management of Hypothyroidism in Children

About 1 out of every 4,000 babies are diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism. This is why doctors regularly screen babies within the first four weeks to know if they are affected. If left untreated hypothyroidism can lead to problems with the nervous system and developmental delays.

A physical exam and specific diagnostic testing that measure levels of TSH, T4 along with imaging tests can confirm a prognosis of hypothyroidism.

Conventional treatment of hypothyroidism typically involves daily thyroid hormone therapy with a medication called levothyroxine (Synthroid). Several lifestyle measures can also be incorporated to treat hypothyroidism. Here are some:

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

One of the main causes of hypothyroidism is inflammation. Having a nutrient-dense diet rich in protein, healthy fats and fiber is recommended, particularly, food rich in iodine and selenium. On the flip side, people with an underactive thyroid should minimize consumption of cruciferous vegetables, gluten, refined sugar, caffeine.


The thyroid is an extremely sensitive gland and is especially reactive to the stress response, so ensure to make your children relaxed and reduce their stress.

Natural Herbs

 In clinical trials, supplementing with Ashwagandha for eight weeks helped hypothyroidism patients significantly increase thyroxine hormone levels, which reduced the severity of the disorder. Also, try other adaptogen herbs like rhodiola, shisandra, ginseng and holy basil that have similar benefits. Also having probiotics to strengthen the gut and aid in nutrient absorption thereby reducing inflammation

Essential Oil

Combine three drops of Frankincense Oil with five parts Lemongrass Oil and five parts Clove Oil. Rub these directly on the thyroid, which is located at the front lower part of your neck

Fortunately, hyperthyroidism can be easily managed with lifestyle changes and medication. With early diagnosis and treatment, the success rate is even higher. Therefore, always take note of your children for obvious symptoms and seek medical attention immediately.