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Congenital Hypothyroidism in Children
is a condition that is present at birth. Your child may be born without a thyroid gland, or the thyroid gland may not make enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones help control body temperature, heart rate, growth, and gaining or losing weight. In children, thyroid hormones play an important role in normal growth and development.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- Your child has choking episodes or sudden trouble breathing.
- Your child faints or has a seizure.
Call your child's pediatrician if:
- Your child has swelling around the eyes, or in the legs, ankles, or feet.
- Your child becomes nervous or restless.
- Your child has diarrhea, tremors, or trouble sleeping.
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child has chills, a cough, or feels weak and achy.
- Your child's signs and symptoms return or become worse.
- Your child's skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Signs and symptoms of congenital hypothyroidism:
Signs and symptoms of congenital hypothyroidism may be present shortly after birth or during infancy. Newborn babies may show no obvious signs and symptoms. During your child's first weeks of life, he or she may have a number of signs and symptoms. At ages 1 to 6 months, your child's signs and symptoms may become worse and more obvious.
- Early signs and symptoms:
- Bulging abdomen
- Low body temperature
- Larger than normal fontanelles (soft spots on the skull)
- Poor feeding
- Swelling of the eyelids, hands, or feet
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
- Later signs and symptoms:
- Darkened, blotched, or dry skin
- Decreased activity and increased sleep
- Large tongue, hoarse crying, or trouble breathing
- Not able to gain weight
- Older children may be shorter than what is expected for their age
- Thyroid hormone medicine helps return your child's thyroid hormone level back to normal.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Help your child get more iodine as directed:
The thyroid gland uses iodine to work correctly and to make thyroid hormones. Your child's pediatrician may recommend foods that are high in iodine. He or she will tell you how much of these foods your child needs to eat. Milk and seafood are good sources of iodine.
Follow up with your child's pediatrician as directed:
Your child may need to see a specialist called an endocrinologist. He or she may need to return for more blood tests to check the thyroid hormone level. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Congenital Hypothyroidism in Children (Ambulatory Care)
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