What Are Thyroid Conditions?
Most childhood chronic conditions such as autism, ADHD, SPD and autoimmune disorders can be co-morbid to thyroid conditions.
The thyroid gland located in the front of the neck, is responsible for all metabolic and chemical processes in the body and is a primary factor in how children grow.
There are always symptoms that children experience when the thyroid is involved.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
If a child has too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Symptoms include:
- Being emotional more than usual
- Eating but losing weight
- Heart palpitations
- Excessive sweating
- Bulging eyes
- Trouble sleeping
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
If a child has too little thyroid hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Symptoms include:
- Low energy
- Gaining weight when there is no change in diet or exercise
- Slow heartbeat
- Cold hands and feet
- Brittle hair
- Dry skin
Other Thyroid Conditions
An enlarged thyroid is called a goiter which sometimes leads to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid condition that is more common in girls.
If your child has a lump in their neck and their voice changes, this may be thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer, which can cause the lymph nodes in the neck to enlarge.
An autoimmune disorder called Grave’s Disease seems to be the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism in children especially at the onset of adolescence.
A child with Grave’s disease may have extreme restlessness and short attention span which can negatively affect the child’s school performance.
Ultimately, all thyroid conditions have been found to affect the growth and development of a child.
What Your Doctor May Tell You About Thyroid Disorders
Your child’s pediatrician may tell you that in some cases thyroid conditions may be hereditary.
However, many children do not get enough of the mineral iodine in their diet, which can contribute to thyroid problems and to make sure you use salt with iodine on your child’s food.
Initially the doctor may want to do a physical exam on your child and blood tests on the major hormones that the thyroid makes, which are T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).
Depending on the thyroid condition, the doctor may also decide to do an ultrasound or a thyroid scan if necessary.
If your child shows a hyperthyroidism condition, the doctor will prescribe medication to regulate the thyroid.
If the problem does not resolve itself after two years, then the doctor may decide to permanently keep the thyroid from producing too much hormone by using a medication that destroys it, or he or she might decide to surgically remove it.
Either way, your doctor may tell you that hyperthyroidism must be controlled so that symptoms will subside.
Your child’s pediatrician may tell you that it is much easier to treat hypothyroidism than hyperthyroidism.
For this condition, your child will likely take medication for the rest of their life to make sure that their body has enough thyroid hormone to grow and develop normally so that all symptoms will subside.
Your child’s pediatrician may also tell you that your child will need yearly blood tests and monitoring.
In this way, the thyroid condition is essentially managed and kept under control with daily medication so that the child feels like normal again.
Any other more complicated thyroid conditions that do not regulate with medication will most likely be treated with surgery to remove the thyroid.
Another Way to Think About Thyroid Conditions
According to Raphael Kellman, MD, a pioneer in functional medicine specializing in microbiome, there is a surprising amount of overlap between the symptoms of low thyroid in neurotypical children and the symptoms of developmental disorders in children with learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays and autism.
- Speech and developmental delays
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Hypotonia (low muscle tone)
- Fine motor dysfunction
- Attention disorders
- Repetitive motions
- Social dysfunction
- Communication dysfunction
- Gastrointestinal abnormalities
- Feeding and eating problems
Dr. Kellman’s findings show that 75% of low thyroid function is actually missed with children with autism and other developmental delays when doctor’s only do routine testing.
Dr. Kellman recommends a comprehensive evaluation and a full thyroid panel which includes levels of:
- TSH as produced through the TRH challenge
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Total T3
- Total T4
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid antibodies TgAb and TPOAb
In some cases mothers pass on their hypothyroidism condition to their unborn babies without realizing this is possible (congenital hypothyroidism).
According to Dr. Kellman, the thyroid gland is the master regulator and catalyst for brain development so both the brain and thyroid are very susceptible to all environmental toxins that interfere with the production and function of endocrine hormones (thyroid).
Examples of these toxins include:
- Heavy metals
- Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCS)
Gluten intolerance has also been linked to thyroid conditions, in particular the autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Gluten-free diets can stop the attack on the thyroid that occurs with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and other thyroid autoimmune conditions where elevated thyroid-related autoantibodies are involved.
How Does the Microbiome Affect the Thyroid?
Too many bad bacteria in the microbiome can lead to low thyroid functioning.
The leaky gut condition can trigger a production of antibodies that create an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the number one cause of low thyroid today in the USA.
When the microbiome is compromised by gut dysbiosis, imbalances, and inflammation, the adrenal glands will begin to produce the stress hormone cortisol and elevated cortisol levels can lower thyroid functioning.
H.Pylori is the bacteria found in stomach ulcers and other digestive disorders. Researchers are now linking this bacterial infection to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
A low-functioning thyroid can also impact the microbiome negatively by:
- Compromising the gut/brain connection
- Reducing stomach acids (hydrochloric acid), which can lead to:
- Intestinal permeability
- SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
- Gut dysbiosis
All of these conditions directly impact proper functioning of the immune system.
Therefore, healing the microbiome is the first step towards healing any thyroid condition.
Thyroid Conditions Checklist to Start
Consider lifestyle contribution:
- Is your child getting 10 hours of sleep per night (or more if your child is under 10)?
- An hour of exercise or movement per day?
- Drinking half his body weight in ounces of water?
Make dietary changes:
Is your child craving and eating primarily a refined carbohydrate, high sugar, trans-fatty acids and fast food diet?
Eliminate all processed foods, and eat a whole foods diet.
Gluten- and dairy-containing foods are commonly known to produce an inability to focus when eaten.
- Eat whole foods
- Buy organic foods
- Remove all GMO foods
- Remove all fast and processed foods
- Remove all foods with:
- Artificial colors
- Artificial ingredients
- With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:
- Strictly limit:
- Refined salt
- Refined carbohydrates
- Consider implementing the Feingold diet
Include plenty of good quality fats, such as:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Wild salmon
- Organic chicken
- Organic turkey
- Grass-fed ghee
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Essential fatty acids from:
- Cod liver oil
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
- Evening primrose oil
- Borage oil
- Walnut oil
Heal the gut with special diets such as:
- GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) diet
- Paleo diet
- GF/CF (gluten-free/casein-free) diet
- Body Ecology Diet
- Modified Atkins Diet (replaces the Ketogenic diet)
Learn more about healing diets and foods.
Use digestive aids with your practitioner’s guidance:
- Betaine hydrochloric acid
- Vitalzyme Complete with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
- Proteolytic enzymes
Clean up your environment:
Have you identified and removed possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)?
Have you identified and removed possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products?
- Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
- Remove carpets
- Use non-toxic cleaners
- Use non-toxic building materials
- Green your home
Avoid exposing your child to chlorine, fluoride, and bromine because all three are in the same family as iodine and can displace iodine in the thyroid gland.
Ask your pediatrician to run some laboratory tests for:
- Possible food sensitivities and allergies
- Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) IgG, IgA, IgE and IgM
- Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. The NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs covers the following areas:
- Cellular energy
- Mitochondrial metabolism
- Neurotransmitter metabolism
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Toxin exposure
- Detoxification need
- Bacterial and yeast overgrowth
- Gluten and casein sensitivities
- Organic acids: The organic acid test by Great Plains Laboratory for yeast overgrowth and Candida, oxalates, and other microbial infections
Add fermented foods and probiotics daily:
These will keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.
- Eat kefir yogurts
- Eat fermented vegetables
- Eat umeboshi plums (very alkalizing)
- Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
Some good probiotics are:
- Gut Pro
- Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics
- Garden of Life
- Klaire Labs
Use herbs, essential oils and natural supplements with your practitioner’s guidance:
- Iodine, such as Lugol’s iodine
- Cod liver oil
- Evening primrose oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Trace minerals
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- MCT oil and/or coconut oil
- Kelp and other seaweed
- Vitamin B complex
- Lithium orotate
- Clove essential oil
- Myrrh essential oil
- Myrtle essential oil
- Spruce essential oil
- Black walnut
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC): prevents upper respiratory infections for those prone to chronic infections
- MSM transdermal cream
- Epsom salts bath
Use homeopathy specific for thyroid conditions
- Calcarea Carbonica
- Sepia Officinalis
- Lycopodium Clavatum
- Nux Vomica
- Lapis Alb
Consider using Schueller’s cell tissue salts which can be effective as well. Sequential homeopathy can also be specific for gastrointestinal symptoms if needed.
See a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor and/or acupuncturist:
A well-trained Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor and/or acupuncturist can treat various thyroid conditions without medication.
See a NAET or BioSET practitioner:
A NAET or Bioset practitioner can help with allergy elimination treatments to eliminate food allergies.
See a chiropractor:
A chiropractor can help with musculoskeletal complaints, lifestyle, nutrition and diet related to thyroid conditions.
See a craniosacral practitioner:
A craniosacral practitioner can lower the stress response, thus helping to regulate the thyroid gland and treat thyroid conditions.
See a homeopath or naturopath:
Homeopathic and naturopathic physicians can diagnose and treat thyroid conditions naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.
Still Looking for Answers?
Sources & References
Peltier, M.R., et al. Maternal Hypothyroidism Increases the Risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the Offspring. Am J Perinat. 2020 Oct 21.
Venâncio, P., et al. Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis with positive serum antithyroid antibodies, IgM antibodies against mycoplasma pneumoniae and human herpesvirus 7 PCR in the CSF. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2014 Aug;33(8):882-3.
Watt, T., et al. Is Thyroid Autoimmunity per se a Determinant of Quality of Life in Patients with Autoimmune Hypothyroidism? Eur Thyroid J. 2012;1(3):186-92
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