Blythe Clifford, Contributor
Blythe shares her insightful tips about thyroid disorders and children.
So, your child just got diagnosed with a thyroid disorder and you don’t know what
to do next. You are probably worried and scared about what this means for your
child’s future. At least, that’s how I felt. It’s normal to be worried, but your energy
is better spent figuring out how to manage your child’s thyroid disorder. It can
seem overwhelming at first, so that’s why I’ve written a few first steps for you to
start with. These are very general, but I’ll be on Thyroid Nation RADIO this
Sunday at 3pm EST and will be talking more in-depth about all of these things.
1) Do your research
Take the time to learn what you can about Congenital Hypothyroidism or your
child’s specific thyroid disorder (acquired hypothyroidism, Graves’ Disease). My
website, Thyroidmom.com, has many resources for parents of children
with thyroid disorders. Most Wednesdays, I post articles that I have found in the
news relating to thyroid disorders. Sign up for my email distribution list so you
don’t miss those thyroid news updates. On my Facebook page, you can connect
with other people and other parents who are going through a similar experience
Hypothyroidism (and other pediatric thyroid disorders), and the
MAGIC Foundation all have great information. I do suggest that you check
those out rather than just searching “hypothyroidism” because the amount of
information can be overwhelming and also doesn’t always pertain to children.
2) Begin to understand the symptoms
Once your child begins taking thyroid medication, their thyroid levels can
fluctuate between hypothyroid (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroid
(overactive thyroid). It can take time and lots of tweaking to get the dose
just right, and of course, the dose of medication your child needs can
change every year your child grows. Pay attention to their body’s cues and
signals, and as they get older, teach them to do the same. For example, if
your baby is not a great sleeper and he has an entire week of 4 hour naps
each day, then you know that something is off. Other signs of
hypothyroidism in infants can be constipation, puffy face and hoarse cry.
Trust your gut. If you think something seems off with your baby, reach
out to your child’s pediatric endocrinologist (or at least the pediatrician).
For more about specific symptoms of hypothyroidism and
hyperthyroidism, read this post.
3) Write it down
Seriously. Write it down. All parents are tired
and busy. Writing down lab results, the
Doctor’s suggestion on when labs should be
repeated, dose changes, etc. can be very
helpful. If you are interested, I can send you a
sample spreadsheet that will help you track which tests your endocrinologist
orders, the date, the results (with ranges) and a place for notes. Just send
me an email at email@example.com or message me on Thyroid Mom’s
Facebook Page. You don’t have to use this spreadsheet, though, you can
simply jot it down in a notebook. Whatever method you choose, this is a
great way for you to begin tracking your child’s health information. As far
as notes, you will want to include what the doctor says about adjusting your
child’s medication dose, when your doctor wants to check your labs again,
keep track of growth information and anything else discussed at
appointments. When you go to appointments, bring your notebook or
spreadsheet with you. Many doctors now use an online system that tracks
lab results, but it may still be helpful to keep your own records so that you
can also keep your notes and questions in the same location. Over time,
you will begin to notice at what levels your child feels his/her best, mentally
and physically, particularly as they get older.
4) Follow the rules
Read the prescribing information for Synthroid (Levothyroxine or
whichever thyroid medication your child has been prescribed). Pay
attention to iron and calcium supplements and be sure they are given
4 hours apart from thyroid medication. I’m often surprised by the
number of parents who say that their doctor and/or pharmacist never
told them about the contraindication with calcium and iron supplements.
Don’t wait for someone to tell you – read the PI yourself. It’s available
with your child’s medication or you can read it here. Give the medication
at the same time every day (or as close to it as you can, given the ever
changing newborn feeding/sleeping schedule). Avoid soy – if you have
an infant, this includes soy-based formulas. By following the rules for
their specific medication, you help optimize their thyroid function.
5) Find a good doctor
A good pediatric endocrinologist treats patients by addressing symptoms
and doesn’t rely solely on lab results. Your child’s symptoms should be as
important to your doctor as your child’s lab results. I have a list of
recommended pediatric endocrinologists that I provide upon request. If
you have a question about finding a good doctor in your area, please feel
free to message me or contact me here. Finding out that your child has a
thyroid disorder can be scary. You are not alone. This is manageable.
Start by taking a few of these basic steps and you will find that over time,
it will become easier. Tune in Sunday at 3pm EST for more about thyroid
disorders in children.
About the Author
Blythe Clifford aka Thyroid Mom is a mother of two beautiful boys, both born with Congenital Hypothyroidism. She was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism during her late twenties and later learned that it was Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Her husband was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease (hyperthyroidism) shortly before their oldest son was born. All four of the family members take daily thyroid hormone replacement medication. The day they received the call with the diagnosis for their oldest son was overwhelming. Feeling alone and desperate to connect with other parents in the same situation, she created her website. She is not a medical professional or a scientist, but she is a Mom that deals with thyroid disease every day. Follow Blythe here, on Facebook and Twitter. Be SURE to check out Blythe’s and her Husband’s Thyroid Thrivers stories for more great insight and information.
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