Pediatric Thyroiditis (Hashimoto's Disease)
Thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune disorder -- a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy organs or tissue (in this case, the thyroid). It is a major cause of hypothyroidism in children and adolescents.
The exact cause of thyroiditis is unknown. As with all autoimmune diseases, it is believed that it may be caused by genetic factors or by a previous viral or bacterial infection.
Thyroiditis is twice as common in girls as it is in boys. Other risk factors for thyroiditis may include:
- Family history of thyroid disease
- Previous history of autoimmune disease (e.g., Type 1 diabetes,lupus)
The symptoms of thyroiditis will vary from child to child, but may include:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry skin
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Joint and muscle pain
- Puffiness in the face
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
- Increased sensitivity to cold
There are several methods used for diagnosing thyroiditis. Your child’s doctor may use a combination of these methods:
- History and physical exam
- Blood tests to measure thyroid hormone (T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels
- Blood tests to check for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, which would indicate autoimmune disorder
At Children’s Health℠, all patients will be evaluated by a medical endocrinologist.
The treatment of choice for thyroiditis is thyroid replacement therapy pills.