For a child with too much thyroid hormone (overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism), doctors may prescribe a medicine to take by mouth every day to block thyroid activity. Common medicines for this are called propylthiouracil and methimazole. The treatment for thyroid disease in children takes place with radioactive iodine taken by mouth. The thyroid gland tends to take up, or concentrate, any iodine in the body. Then the radioactivity shrinks the thyroid, lowering the amount of hormones. Many children with thyroid problems see doctors who specialize in conditions linked to hormones (endocrinologists). The team there may be able to diagnose and treat your child's thyroid problem, with no need for surgery. Medicine may be all your child needs to correct too much or too little thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is the most common kind of thyroid disorder in children. It occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body's needs. There are two types of hypothyroidism in infants and children: Congenital hypothyroidism, which is present at birth, and acquired hypothyroidism, which develops after birth, usually during late childhood or adolescence. The disorder can result from insufficient maternal iodine consumption during pregnancy, but this is rare in the U.S., where dietary iodine is generally adequate (iodine is added to table salt and is present in seafood and milk). Most thyroid disease seen in adults also occurs in children. Although there are some differences in management, the principles remain the same.
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