Pediatric Endocrinology

HORMONES AFFECT YOUR CHILD TOO. Understanding Pediatric Endocrinology

Hormones are nothing but chemicals that affect the functioning of body organs. Hormones deliver signals to cells and travel through the blood. In the case of children, hormones have an effect on their growth. Endocrine glands like the pituitary gland are responsible for releasing hormones. The science of studying glands like these and how hormones affect the body is known as endocrinology.

What does a pediatric endocrinologist do?

You may need to have your child treated by a pediatric endocrinologist if he/she has problems with diabetes, puberty, growth and other hormone-related disorders. The problems that a pediatric endocrinologist sees to are a lot different to the ones usually seen by an adult endocrinologist. Pediatric conditions require special training as they play an important role in the growth and development of a child. While hormonal issues can occur at any point of time in life, a pediatric endocrinologist only deals with hormone disorders of all children till their teen years.

Pediatric endocrinology – The Right Care for Your Child

Children can never be treated as simply small adults. They are continuously growing and have particular needs in relation to their growth and development. Not just that, they have different psychological needs from adults as well. If there is a hormonal issue affecting their growth and sexual development, it can have a serious impact on their emotional and physical well-being. A pediatric endocrinologist understands this and provides the care that is appropriate for children and teenagers.

In some cases, like in children with special needs, pediatric endocrinologists need to work in coordination with your child’s primary healthcare provider or pediatrician to provide comprehensive care. A pediatric endocrinologist has the required expertise as well as training to deal with and treat children with hormonal problems and endocrine disorders. If your child’s pediatrician has suggested seeing a pediatric endocrinologist, you are assured of the right care for your child.

What kind of treatment is provided by a pediatric endocrinologist?

Pediatric endocrinologists are responsible for diagnosing, treating and managing hormonal disorders, which include the following:

  • Growth troubles, such as short stature
  • Goitre (enlarged thyroid gland)
  • Delayed or early puberty
  • Overactive or underactive thyroid gland
  • Adrenal gland hyper/hypofunction
  • Pituitary gland hyper/hypofunction
  • Testicular and Ovarian dysfunction
  • Ambiguous genitals or intersex
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Issues with Vitamin D (hypocalcaemia, rickets)

Adrenal Disorders

The hormones released by adrenal glands are responsible for controlling several important functions, including the response of a child to stress and even puberty. An adrenal disorder is developed when the adrenal glands of a child do not function properly. The hormone that is affected determines the kind of disorder. Cushing’s syndrome is an example of such a disorder. It occurs when the body produces excess cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. If the body produces too little cortisol, it results in another disorder known as Adrenal insufficiency.

Phosphorus and Calcium Disorders

Phosphorus and calcium are two of the most important minerals for different body parts. Calcium is helpful with the functioning of the brain, muscles and the heart. Phosphorus and calcium work in combination to build strong bones and teeth. Several issues may develop if the levels of phosphorus and calcium are too low (hypophosphatemia and hypocalcemia) or too high (hyperphosphatemia and hypercalcemia). If there is an issue with parathyroid hormone production, it can often cause phosphorus and calcium disorders. These disorders may also result from issues with how vitamin D works in the body.

Gonad Disorders

Ovaries in girls and testes in boys are termed as gonads and they are responsible for producing most of the sex hormones of the body. When the production of hormones by the gonads is too little (hypogonadism) or excessive (hypergonadism), it can cause health issues. Hypogonadism in boys causes slower development of facial hair and muscles, resulting in shorter stature. Hypogonadism in girls hinders the development of breasts, slows down growth and delays menstruation. When these hormones are present in excess amounts, it can cause rapid sexual development.

Type 1 Diabetes

When there is an excessive level of glucose or sugar in the blood, the condition is called diabetes. In the case of Type 1 Diabetes, the levels of blood sugar are too high because a hormone known as Insulin isn’t being sufficiently produced by the body. Insulin performs the function of moving sugar into the cells from the blood. Type 1 diabetes is quite common among children and young adults.

Type 2 Diabetes

When the body fails to respond in a proper manner to insulin, it results in Type 2 diabetes. When the cells do not uptake sufficient glucose, it causes a rise in the blood sugar levels.

Growth Disorders And Growth Hormone Deficiency

There may be growth issues in children and teenagers that prevent them from attaining normal growth. Endocrine diseases like hypothyroidism is an example of a hormonal issue that can possibly cause growth disorders. When the pituitary gland fails to produce adequate hormones for normal growth, the condition is called growth hormone deficiency.

Puberty Disorders

Children go through a stage in their life when they are sexually mature. This stage is known as puberty. Girls hit puberty around the age of 9-14 and boys around the age 11-16. If puberty starts way too late or early, it can cause issues with the release of hormones and how they are used by the body. When puberty begins too early, before 9 years in boys and before 8 years in girls, it is known as precocious puberty. Signs of delayed puberty in girls include no breast development by the age of 14 or no menstruation by the age of16. In boys, delayed puberty indications include the testicles not growing larger by the age of 14.

Lipid Disorders

These are the disorders that cause issues in maintaining normal body fat levels. If LDL cholesterol is present in high levels in a child or a teenager, it increases the risk of a heart disease being developed early in life.

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