What causes hypothyroidism in children

Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Even newborns can suffer from an underactive thyroid, the so-called newborn hypothyroidism. It can be triggered by a congenital malformation or underdevelopment of the thyroid gland. In some children the organ can be completely absent. In addition, genetic disorders of the utilization of iodine are a possible cause of an underactive thyroid. Both disorders prevent the production of the required amount of thyroid hormones. In addition to the congenital forms of hypothyroidism, this can also develop during pregnancy, usually due to an iodine deficiency in the expectant mother. But the excessive use of medication against an overactive thyroid during pregnancy also carries the risk of underactive in the child. The latter can only be temporary.

If an underactive thyroid only develops in the course of life, destruction of the thyroid tissue is usually responsible for it. The most common cause is chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland (Hashimoto's immune thyroiditis). If the organism forms antibodies against the body's own tissue, in this case against components of the thyroid gland, this can be destroyed. This is a so-called autoimmune disease. The thyroid can no longer produce sufficient hormones, which leads to the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Often the patients have not felt any previous inflammation.
In addition, an underactive thyroid can be the result of thyroid surgery for a tumor or radio-iodine therapy. Eventually, an overdose of medication used to treat hyperthyroidism can turn into the opposite and cause underactive.

In rare cases, diseases of the pituitary gland can also trigger an underactive thyroid. Because the pituitary gland regulates hormone production by the thyroid, disorders can affect the thyroid.