Your child’s development depends on the endocrine system. Growth hormone from the pituitary gland regulates growth, body fat, and bone and muscle development. Insulin moves glucose into the cells, where it is used for energy. And when puberty occurs, estrogen, testosterone and other hormones trigger changes that transform a child into an adult.
As with adults, hormone disorders can cause myriad problems in the developing child: growth disorders, early or late puberty, diabetes and others. Genetic disorders, too, can lead to hormonal issues in a developing child. Males with Klinefelter syndrome, for example, may have lower than normal levels of testosterone, resulting in absent or delayed puberty and a number of other symptoms. Some children are born with ambiguous genitalia caused by abnormal hormone levels.
In the Sutter Health network, pediatric endocrinologists are experts at diagnosing and treating hormonal disorders in children, helping them to function at their best and mature into healthy adults. They understand that a child is not just a small adult, but a developing and growing person who needs specialized care. They also understand that children with hormonal disorders may need some emotional support, as looking or feeling different from other kids can be upsetting.
Your pediatric endocrinologist may suggest a number of tests to diagnose your child’s condition.
- Growth Hormone Testing — Doctors use stimulation or suppression tests, a series of blood tests, to determine how the pituitary gland is releasing growth hormone.
- Bone Age Assessment — A simple X-ray of the wrist and hand, can show if a child’s skeleton is developing at a normal pace.
- Thyroid Test — A blood test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), can reveal how well the thyroid is working.
Your doctor may also want to do a nutritional assessment, a detailed analysis of what your child eats and his activity level, to see if his diet is affecting his growth.
Many pediatric endocrine disorders can be treated. Once your doctor has made a diagnosis, he will talk with you and your child about treatment options.
Some hormonal issues, including common growth hormone disorders and thyroid issues, can be treated with daily medication or hormone supplements.
If your child is experiencing emotional distress related to his or her hormonal issues, let us help. Your pediatric endocrinologist can refer you to a mental health provider with expertise in child and adolescent issues.