Does Your Child Have a Growth Disorder?

When is a lack of growth a cause for concern? All children grow at different rates. The same boy that is the smallest in his class in elementary school might be the tallest at his high school graduation. In most cases lack of height can be attributed to genetic factors or in other instances it could just be that the child is a “late bloomer.”

After years of collecting statistics on childhood development experts have developed a standard growth chart. Pediatricians use this chart as a guideline to monitor the growth of their patients against other children of the same age during a child’s annual well visit.  Children are ranked by percentile (from 1 to 100). If a child is ranked either below the 3rd or above the 97th, a doctor will usually want to investigate potential reasons as to why.

While in most cases there is no need for concern, for some children, a lack of growth could be caused by a growth disorder. The most common reason for a growth disorder is related to the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. One of the main functions of this gland is to release growth hormones to your body. When the pituitary gland doesn’t make enough growth hormone,  it causes a condition known hypopituitarism, which can slow down a  child’s rate of growth. Special tests can determine if a child isn’t producing enough growth hormone. If not, daily injections of growth hormone can often help them grow at a more conventional rate.

Another gland that produces hormones important for growth is the thyroid. Your thyroid makes a hormone called thyroxine. If it makes too little, the condition is called hypothyroidism. Having too little thyroxine cause a child to grow more slowly. Doctors can do a simple blood test for hypothyroidism. If it’s needed, pills can be prescribed to compensate for the lack of this hormone.

Thankfully, many growth disorders can be successfully treated today. The best advice is to make sure your child sees their pediatrician for their annual visit so any issue can be immediately identified. If you do not have a pediatrician, you can make an appointment to see one inJamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center.

For more information, or to make an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.

Information About Thyroid Disease

The thyroid gland serves many functions. It regulates our rate of metabolism, growth and development, and our body temperature. So when it isn’t working properly it can have a major impact on our health.

ThinkstockPhotos-505568323According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), thyroid disease is a more common disorder than diabetes or heart disease. It affects as many as 30 million Americans, more than half of whom remain undiagnosed. To raise awareness about the thyroid gland and symptoms of thyroid disease, January has been designated Thyroid Awareness Month.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck.. Although small in size, the gland plays a large role by producing thyroid hormone which influences the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. When the thyroid gland is not producing the right amount of hormone (either too much or too little), problems can start to arise.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones. This can result in a range of symptoms that include unexplained fatigue, weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, feeling cold, hair loss, or low sex drive. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition when the body produces an abundance of thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include rapid heart rate, heat intolerance and unexplained weight loss and anxiety. For both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, medication can be prescribed to regulate hormone levels.

A more serious concern involving the thyroid gland is thyroid cancer, which can develop independent of the above thyroid disease. According to the AACE, about 60,000 cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed annually in the U.S. In most cases, thyroid cancer has a good prognosis and high survival rates—especially when diagnosed in its early stages.

Through attention raised by Thyroid Awareness Month, more and more primary care physicians are screening for thyroid disease, which has greatly helped those who would have otherwise had their condition go undiagnosed.

Jamaica Hospital is proud to help raise awareness for thyroid disease and encourages everyone experiencing symptoms to ask their doctor to do an evaluation. If you do not have a doctor, call Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center to make an appointment at 718-206-7001.