Hormonal Disorders in Children

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The hormones of a child play a critical role in regulating their body and maintaining their overall health. Hormones control various functions, including mood, body temperature, and growth. Hormonal disorders in children can interfere with the normal, healthy functioning of the body. These disorders can lead to several problems, such as diabetes, stunted growth, and emotional disturbances.

It is essential to know the signs of hormonal disorders and how to manage them to ensure the safety and well-being of your child.


Understanding Hormones and The Endocrine System

The human body's endocrine system consists of glands that produce and release hormones into the bloodstream. The major glands include the hypothalamus, which produces hormones to control other parts of the endocrine system and is located at the base of the brain.


The Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland, found under the hypothalamus, releases several hormones, such as growth hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH), that are essential for growth and development and control pubertal development. The thyroid gland, located in the neck, secretes two hormones - thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) - that are important in controlling metabolic processes and supporting the activity of the growth hormone.


Adrenal Glands

The adrenal glands produce several hormones, including cortisol, that play a role in metabolism, growth, and the body's stress response.


The Ovaries

The ovaries produce female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, that are involved in female sex organ development, menstrual cycle, fertility throughout life, and breast development.


The Testes

Similarly, the testes produce the male sex hormone testosterone, which is important for spermatogenesis, growth, muscle mass, and secondary sexual characteristics such as facial and body hair.


Why Is Hormone Balance Important in Children?

Hormones are crucial for the health and development of children. Any abnormal functioning of the endocrine glands can have significant implications, often resulting in disorders related to sexual development or abnormal growth.


Sex Hormone Malfunction

For example, during puberty, the hypothalamus secretes corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete FSH and LH hormones, leading to the production of sex hormones by the testes or ovaries. However, if either of the endocrine glands involved in this process malfunctions and secretes too much or too little hormone, it can directly affect pubertal development.


Precocious Puberty

Some children may experience precocious puberty, where puberty occurs at a very early age, while others may experience a delayed onset of puberty. Both disorders can occur due to abnormal hormone secretion.


If a child has a disorder caused by hormonal imbalance, they need the attention of paediatric endocrinologists, who specialise in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the endocrine system.



Types of Hormonal Disorders

Hormonal disorders, or endocrine disorders, can affect children of any age. These disorders may be caused by genetics, and obesity is a known risk factor. Endocrine disorders are commonly associated with the pancreas, thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary glands. Hormonal imbalances or tumours can cause bone disorders as well.


Common Hormonal Disorders Include:

  • Diabetes – Type 1 & Type 2
  • Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
  • Delayed puberty or early puberty
  • Growth hormone disorders
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Turner Syndrome

The symptoms of these disorders can differ, depending on which gland is causing the hormonal imbalance. Adrenal disorders may cause fatigue, cravings, and insomnia in children. On the other hand, pituitary gland disorders could result in weight loss, hair loss, and feeling cold.


Other Signs of a Hormonal Disorder in Children Include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Behind or ahead of growth milestones

Hormonal imbalances can cause more than just changes in growth. They can have an impact on a child's overall well-being, including mood and appetite. Be sure to monitor your child's behaviour for any signs of concern.


What is Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children?

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a medical condition in which the pituitary gland fails to produce enough growth hormone. The growth hormone plays a crucial role in stimulating the growth of bones and other body tissues. GHD can happen at any age, and it does not impact a child's intelligence.


What Causes GH Deficiency in a Child?

Growth hormone (GH) deficiency can occur when the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus gland is damaged. This damage can happen before birth (congenital), or during or after birth (acquired). The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of the brain and is responsible for releasing up to 8 different hormones. These hormones regulate growth, metabolism, blood pressure, and other essential body processes. There are rare cases where GH deficiency can be part of a genetic syndrome. In many other cases, the cause of GH deficiency is unknown (idiopathic).



Effective treatments for endocrine disorders are available, including various medications, injections, time-release capsules, and IV infusions. For diabetes, glucose sensing devices, insulin pumps, and many other devices are available for managing the condition. Qualified professionals can provide proper care and information for your child, enabling them to lead a happy and fulfilling life. If you suspect your child may have a hormonal disorder, contact our experienced team today to schedule an appointment.


When to See a Doctor

If your child shows signs of an endocrine disorder, seek professional help immediately. Hormonal imbalances can cause lifelong health issues. Diagnosis involves blood tests, and once the results are reviewed, treatment can begin. Ask your doctor questions for better care.

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