KidsMD Health Topics


  • Overview

    Hyperparathyroidism is a condition caused by overactive parathyroid glands. They produce high levels of parathyroid hormones, which, in turn, result in increased levels of calcium in the blood stream (hypercalcemia).

    • Hyperparathyroidism is quite rare in children.
    • Children with hyperparathyroidism may experience more severe symptoms than adults.
    • Research suggests that Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to hyperparathyroidism.

    At Boston Children's Hospital, we treat hyperparathyroidism in our General Endocrinology Program—a multi-disciplinary program dedicated to the treatment of a wide range of endocrinological disorders, including hyperparathyroidism.

    Boston Children's Hospital 
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115


  • In-Depth

    What causes hyperparathyroidism?

    Hyperparathyroidism may be caused by:

    • benign (non-cancerous) tumors on the parathyroid glands
    • enlargement of the parathyroid glands
    • vitamin D deficiency

    Why is calcium so important?

    Many people know that calcium is essential for bone and tooth strength and development, but it’s also important for:

    • nerve transmission
    • muscle contraction
    • helping blood clot

    What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism?

    Since high levels of calcium in the blood affect the nervous system, some symptoms of hyperparathyroidism are neurological in origin. While each child may experience symptoms differently, some of the most common include:

    • kidney pain (due to the presence of kidney stones)
    • bone pain (caused by diminished bone density)
    • aches and pains
    • abdominal pain
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • fatigue
    • excessive urination
    • confusion
    • muscle weakness

    The symptoms of hyperparathyroidism may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

    What are the risks of hyperparathyroidism?

    If left untreated, hyperparathyroidism may lead to conditions including:

    • osteoporosis and osteomalacia (both bone-weakening diseases)
    • kidney stones (due to the increased level of calcium in the urine)
    • muscle weakness
  • Tests

    How can doctors tell if my child has hyperparathyroidism?

    In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for hyperparathyroidism may include:

    • bone x-rays - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
    • laboratory tests (to measure calcium, parathyroid hormone, vitamin D and phosphorous levels)
  • Most hyperparathyroidism patients are evaluated for surgery. Treatment may include removal of parathyroid tissue or medication.

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