Thyroid disorders include all conditions that affect your child’s thyroid. This gland in the neck produces hormones that control your child’s metabolism, heart rate and digestion.
A child’s thyroid may produce too many hormones or too few hormones. Tumors of the thyroid can also affect its function. Whether your child needs treatment for a thyroid disorder, noncancerous tumor or thyroid cancer, our specialists provide advanced, collaborative treatments.
Treatment for Thyroid Problems in Children
The specialists in the Pediatric Thyroid Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are among the most experienced in the nation. We care for children from initial diagnosis through long-term management.
Thyroid treatment may include:
Medications used to treat thyroid conditions vary depending on the specific diagnosis and symptom severity. In general, your child may take medicines that:
- Replace thyroid hormones if the thyroid gland is underactive
- Decrease hormone production if the thyroid gland is overactive
- Treat symptoms such as high blood pressure, anxiety or increased heart rate
The medication type, dosage and frequency all vary based on your child’s individual needs. Your child’s provider will explain all risks and benefits, as well as answer your questions, before prescribing any medication.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy
Radioactive iodine therapy is a treatment that specifically targets thyroid cancer. It may also be a treatment for an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
The thyroid needs a mineral called iodine to produce hormones. The gland takes in iodine from food to get what it needs.
Radioactive iodine therapy works by using a radioactive form of iodine to damage or destroy thyroid cells. The treatment is given as an oral (swallowable) capsule. Children may take the capsule as a treatment for hyperthyroidism or for thyroid cancer.
Sometimes, children need surgery for thyroid conditions. Specialized head and neck surgeons can remove thyroid tumors, nodules or cancer. They may partially or fully remove the thyroid gland if children have severe hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid surgery typically takes about two to three hours. Many children can return home the same day or the day after surgery. Your child’s surgeon will give you instructions about how to prepare for surgery and what to expect.
Children who have hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) may struggle with weight gain. Children may work with a dietitian while undergoing treatment. This specialist can help your child make better food choices to maintain a healthier weight.
A dietitian can also give nutritional advice based on whether or not your child has a vitamin deficiency. For example, if your child has low vitamin D levels, a dietitian may recommend eating more fatty fish, dairy or taking a supplement. Dietary changes are typically part of an overall treatment plan that also includes medication.
Comprehensive Pediatric Thyroid Treatment
At Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we offer comprehensive care for thyroid issues. U.S. News & World Report ranks us No. 8 in the country for pediatric endocrinology, and No. 5 in the nation and the best in California for overall pediatric care. Our expert pediatric endocrinologists lead multiple programs and clinics, including our Pediatric Thyroid Clinic.
We provide advanced treatments from a team of experts. For example, our specialists are among the only ones in the country who offer radioactive iodine therapy, a specialized treatment for thyroid cancer. Learn about our Pediatric Thyroid Clinic.