Most thyroid disorders in children are due to thyroid dysfunction, which refers to overactivity (hyperthyroidism) or underactivity (hypothyroidism) of the thyroid gland. While these disorders can profoundly disrupt pediatric development and health, highly effective treatments are available.
Childhood hypothyroidism is usually permanent, but hormone replacement is both effective and safe. Careful monitoring is required to ensure that normal thyroid function is maintained through growth and puberty.
Childhood hyperthyroidism is rare, but all forms respond to antithyroid medication. A small number of patients eventually experience spontaneous remission of their hyperthyroidism. However, many patients end up needing therapy with radioiodine ablation or surgery.
Thyroid nodules are rare in children and, as in adults, carry a significant risk of malignancy. Early detection and treatment of thyroid cancer is the primary goal in the evaluation of thyroid nodules.
In children and adolescents, thyroid cancer tends to be more advanced at the time of diagnosis than in adults. However, with early detection and therapy, the prognosis of most children with thyroid cancer is excellent.