Thyroid on the rise among kids, doctors say awareness lacking

Kathmandu, October 27

Most parents might not be aware, but even a baby could have thyroid disease from birth, warn doctors.

Contrary to the misconception that thyroid disorders mostly occurred in mature people, the number of children with thyroid problems is on the rise, according to Dr Buddha Bahadur Karki, thyroid specialist. “Among all thyroid patients visiting hospitals for treatment, children constitute 20 per cent,” he said.

Kapil Malla, 14, of Balaju was having symptoms of constipation since he was five. Though he took medicine for the digestive system disorder for a long time, he could not get rid of the condition completely. His mother Krishna Devi informed that Kapil was later diagnosed with thyroid problems.

“He eats a lot but still he seems so thin and weak. Doctor told me that had the condition been diagnosed early, his problems would have been completely cured,” she shared.

She further said, “Had I known that even children could have thyroid disorders, I could have done something to keep my son from reaching this situation. At this stage, the treatment is expensive and less effective.”

Delayed menstruation has left Nrijala Baniya, 16, tense. According to her mother Menuka, her daughter was once diagnosed with jaundice. She seems very weak without appropriate height and weight for her age and also looks mentally retarded. “I had never imagined that she could have thyroid problems,” said Menuka, herself a thyroid patient.

Lack of iodine in the body leads children to thyroid problems,” said Dr Manila Ratna Bajracharya, consultant diabetologist and endocrinologist at Bir Hospital. Thyroid problems mostly occur in females and can also be seen in their children. “It is necessary to make people aware that even children can have thyroid disorders from birth and that the problems can be completely controlled, if medication is started after early diagnosis. If left untreated, the condition, in severe cases, can lead to children going to comma or can leave them mentally retarded and physically weak.

Bishnu Rath Giri, paediatrician at Kanti Children’s Hospital, Maharajgunj, said thyroid condition was found to be common particularly among children from the mountainous areas where food items lacked appropriate content of iodine. “Salt and seaweeds contain iodine which is vital for thyroid glands,” the doctor said.