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Children come in all shapes and sizes. One of the reasons for that is hormones, chemicals that are produced by glands and released into the blood. When the hormones are in balance, growth and development stay on schedule. But too much or too little of a hormone can throw the body off and lead to endocrine disorders.
An overactive thyroid gland, for example, can cause your child to have trouble concentrating or sleeping, or lead to a fast heartbeat. An underactive thyroid can cause muscle soreness and make your child look puffy or feel tired.
Problems that stem from having too much or too little of a hormone are known as endocrine disorders.
Common problems caused by endocrine disorders in children include:
One of the most well-known endocrine disorders is childhood diabetes, which is caused when the body can’t produce enough insulin. Without insulin, the sugar in your child’s blood could rise above normal levels and leave her feeling thirsty, tired, hungry and going to the bathroom frequently.
Knowing that children can be diagnosed with both types of diabetes can make learning that your child has the disease a doubly confusing time. In reality, they are more similar than different. The most common form in children and adolescents is type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas. His or her body does not produce insulin, which it needs to get glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. A child diagnosed with type 2 diabetes produces insulin, but his or her body doesn’t use it properly.
The long-term complications are similar and can affect the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. But the most alarming similarity is that both are on the rise in children. Between 2001 and 2009, the number of type 1 cases in children aged up to 9 years increased by 21 percent, while the number of type 2 cases among ages 10-19 rose by 30.5 percent.
The increase makes diabetes a major concern for parents, as it is for the pediatricians at Mercy Kids. But we know that children with either form of diabetes can live long, healthy lives if they:
Our pediatricians work with other Mercy specialists to see your child every 3 to 6 months, check how well treatments are working and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Our care team also provides information and support to help you help your child develop healthy habits for life. From the initial diagnosis through adolescence, Mercy is here for you every step of the way.
Pediatricians at Mercy Kids are trained to deal with the vast array of endocrine disorders. They can pinpoint which hormones are not in balance and offer medications that keep hormones at normal levels.
With help from the Mercy team, your child’s growth and development can get back on track.