Thyroid is the most common endocrine disorder among school-age kids. On average, 37 out of every 1,000 kids are thought to have thyroid problems. It is quite prevalent among girls, with roughly 1 in 300 girls being affected. Even though thyroid disease is mostly seen in adults, it can also occur in newborns, infants, children and teens as well affecting the thyroid gland. While some of the symptoms may be similar in adults, it can be challenging to detect thyroid disease in children. Read more to check causes, symptoms and foods that can help to manage thyroid in kids.
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What is thyroid?
Thyroid gland is a gland which is present at the front side of the neck. Adam’s apple is present just above the thyroid gland. Thyroid gland secretes hormones called T3 and T4 hormones. These are responsible for regulating the metabolic rate of the body, controlling digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development and also maintaining bone health. So, any irregularities in this gland may cause imbalance in the whole body function.
Thyroid gland disorder in children:
It’s all in the right amount of hormone secretion by the thyroid gland. If it secretes too much thyroid hormones, the condition is called hyperthyroidism and when it secretes too little hormones, it will result in a condition called hypothyroidism in kids. Both of these disorders can affect the child’s growth, mood, health, learning ability and concentration. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT), is a disease which typically causes hypothyroidism, is the most occurred thyroid disease in children.
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Symptoms of thyroid in kids:
These most common symptoms listed here can help to relate if your child is having thyroid disorder.
In the case of kids with hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland is producing either too little hormones, a condition known as primary hypothyroidism, or the thyroid gland is not stimulated properly, a condition known as secondary hypothyroidism. Symptoms include constipation, rough dry skin, slow growth, fatigue, cold intolerance, bruising, too much sleeping, bone fracture, delayed puberty etc. Sometimes, the child with thyroid issue is overweight or obese and shorter in height.
In case of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces high amounts of hormones which may be because of overactivity or overstimulation of gland. The symptoms include, shorter attention spans, tremors, weight loss, emotional breakdowns, increased appetite, goitre(enlarged thyroid), less blinking, upper eyelid lag, excessive sweating, muscle weakness,high blood pressure etc.
DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH THYROID IN KIDS:
Thyroid gland disorder can also cause other endocrine disorders such as tumours in pituitary gland, diabetes mellitus, and tumours in adrenal gland. It may also include some of the symptoms such as increased or decreased blood sugar level, white discharge from breast, vision problem, early puberty, headache, high BP or low BP.
Thyroid may also lead to some of the health complications in kids such as myxedema (hypothyroidism condition resulting in skin swelling), infertility during adulthood, puberty delay, heart complications and even thyroid cancer.
Foods to avoid with hypothyroidism
- Soybean and soybean products:
Soybean contains isoflavones, compounds that negatively affect the thyroid affected child. It may increase the risk of hypothyroidism. It interferes with the absorption of thyroid medication.
- Cruciferous vegetables:
Cruciferous vegetables include brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnip etc. These are definitely full of nutrients and fibre rich but they may affect the thyroid’s ability to produce the hormones, especially if your child is iodine deficient.
Gluten found in some of the cereals such as wheat and rye, and their products may hamper the absorption of medication given for thyroid in the small intestine. The condition may get worse if the child is suffering from gluten intolerance along with hypothyroidism. (Also check, WHAT IS GLUTEN FREE MEANS: A GUIDE TO A GLUTEN FREE DIET FOR KIDS)
- Sugar and fatty foods:
Usually thyroid disorders are associated with overweight and obesity. So, it’s very important to take care about how much sugar or fatty foods your child is gulping down. These junk foods may also hamper the production of thyroid hormones.
- Fibre rich food in excess:
Consuming fibre rich foods is good. However, too much fibre consumption in terms of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes may affect the absorption of medication in the intestine.
Foods to avoid with hyperthyroidism
Too much iodine consumption can worsen hyperthyroidism. Hence, children with hyperthyroidism should avoid or limit eating iodized salt, fish and shellfish, dairy products, egg yolk, seaweed, baked goods and products with soy, gluten and caffeine.
Foods that help To manage thyroid in kids
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that has magical healing properties. It can boost the thyroid hormone production from the thyroid gland. Hence this herb can be used to treat hypothyroidism. But, because of this thyroid stimulating property, it is not advisable for children with hyperthyroidism.
Brahmi is a powerful medicinal herb. It can stimulate the activity of the thyroid gland by raising the level of production of T4 hormone. Hence it is useful for hypothyroidism.
Shankhpushpi is a herb that finds use in many Ayurvedic medicines. It has the ability to suppress the thyroid gland function and reduce hormone production. Therefore, it is very useful for treating hyperthyroidism.
Nuts and seeds:
Nuts and seeds such as cashew nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are rich in iron and selenium. These nutrients can help in proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
Vitamin E is essential for optimal thyroid function. If the child is deficient in vitamin E, it may negatively affect the thyroid gland and increase the risk of developing thyroid disease.
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Rosemary is a woody herb belonging to the mint family. Many thyroid treating tablets include rosemary as a part of it. This might be because the rosemary stimulates thyroid hormone receptors. It has powerful antioxidants that help in reducing joint pain, hair loss and other symptoms of thyroid.
Himalayan pink salt:
Since Himalayan pink salt is rich in iodine and lower sodium level, it helps to boost the thyroid gland function and can be effective in curing hypothyroidism.