The Thyroid Program at Children's Hospital Boston is one of the only centers in the United States
exclusively devoted to the care of children with thyroid diseases.
Pediatric thyroid basics:
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.
Thyroid nodules are rare in children but, 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.
The Thyroid Program cares for infants, children and adolescents with all types of
thyroid disease. Conditions treated include thyroid dysfunction, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. The thyroid team includes pediatric endocrinologists who collaborate with radiologists, surgeons and pathologists to deliver multidisciplinary care. Because most pediatric thyroid disorders are life-long, the Thyroid Program works closely with the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to provide care that extends through adulthood.
What the program offers:
Clinical evaluation and treatment of all thyroid disorders
Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration. Stephen Huang, MD, and Jessica Smith,
MD, have performed more than 190 of these procedures in children.
Radioiodine therapy for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer
Nursing staff and a clinic coordinator who work closely with families
A Thyroid Nodule Clinic that is among the largest of its kind in the country
Research studies underway
The Thyroid Program conducts basic and clinical research aimed at improving the
care of children with thyroid disease. Ongoing clinical projects include investigations
of childhood thyroid cancer and glandular dysfunction. In addition, basic science
approaches are used to perform translational research of the molecular action of
thyroid hormone in human cancers and other tissues. The latter research has led to
the recent discovery that type 3 iodothyronine deiodinase (D3), a thyroid hormone-
inactivating enzyme, is induced during human illness and can cause local or systemic
hypothyroidism. This can cause severe disease in certain infants with large D3-expressing hemangiomas, a condition that is now termed consumptive hypothyroidism.