Children Can Have Hypothyroidism with Normal TSH

Just like adults, children can have hypothyroidism with normal TSH.

When my son Jack was nine years old I realized that his struggle with weight gain, inability to focus at school, and low energy may be caused by hypothyroidism. That it wasn’t just a matter of just eat less, pay more attention, and try to exercise more. Looking into his eyes, Jack had the dull flat look of hypothyroidism. I know this look all too well.

Weight Gain is a Clue to Hypothyroidism

In an effort to slow the weight gain, my son tried my diet of no grain, no flour and minimal sugar. He was a real trouper about this very limited meal plan. As an example for breakfast he would eat eggs, potatoes and lettuce. For lunch, he had smoothies made with frozen fruit, chocolate and stevia for sweetener. For dinner, he would have a hamburger without a bun. While the diet was limited, I tried to make the meals fun and satisfying for Jack.

Most normal people on this kind of diet would lose weight. But not Jack. Difficulty loosing weight makes hypothyroidism so frustrating. Even when we eat a very healthy diet, weight loss can be almost impossible. However, by doing this paleo-like diet, it helped me realize that Jack didn’t have an issue eating too much. He had  underlying hypothyroidism. Until we solved the hypothyroidism, weight loss was going to be hard.

When Doctors Misdiagnose Because of TSH

In the past Jack’s primary care doctor said his TSH labs were normal, therefore he didn’t have hypothyroidism. The doctor never told me the actual TSH result, and they didn’t run any other tests. At the time, I accepted the normal diagnosis even though I should have known better.

However, with the weight gain issues and other hypothyroid symptoms, I knew that patients can have hypothyroidism with normal TSH. Rather than try to debate the thyroid results with Jack’s primary care, instead I took Jack to the doctor who helped me with hypothyroidism, Dr. Brummer.

Dr. Brummer ran a full panel of tests for Jack. Even though we don’t rely upon TSH, Dr. Brummer said Jack’s TSH was a 6. He said this was the very high end of a normal range, whereas a range of 2.5 is more normal. Finally we had a diagnosis that made sense.

As a mom, it was heartbreaking to watch my child gain weight uncontrollably and have low energy. When other kids played at recess he would sit on the sidelines because he didn’t have the stamina to keep up.

Hypothyroidism Treatment for Children 

Just like adults, children can be treated for hypothyroidism with medicine. Dr. Brummer agreed to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid medicine for Jack, know that we preferred NDT over T4 only medicine like Synthroid.

Since starting natural desiccated thyroid medicine for hypothyroidism, Jack’s health, well being and childhood is so much better. Now he is better able to manage his weight on a normal, non-restricted diet. He said he now has energy to play at recess and enjoys keeping up with the other children.




Miss LizzyChildren Can Have Hypothyroidism with Normal TSH

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  • Sue Taylor - January 16, 2011

    I haven't commented here yet, but just thought I'd tell you that I have 4 children on thyroid right now and 2 of them on cortef. Having trouble balancing them too. I think it's that naturethroid change. Dangit! I cannot afford compounded for all of them! One of my daughters is overweight, not grossly but about 25-30 lbs. I don't call that obese as the med charts like too. I feel that's a label used way too loosely just to sell weight loss gimmicks. Unfortunately she does not take it seriously and isn't consistent about taking it. It's been 3 years and at 17 you'd think she'd want to do something to feel and look better. She feels it doesn't work because she hasn't lost weight, but she sabotages herself constantly and then comforts herself with food. And then because she doesn't feel great, she doesn't exercise. All 3 daughters are carboholics and just roll their eyes at me when I tell them they need to stop. All 3 are overweight to some degree. I may bring the two oldest two to your workshop. I think they need to hear this stuff from you because they can relate to you. I've always been slight, always liked exercise and generally like being healthy. I've definetly had health issues that have slowed me down, but I think they think it's easy for me because I've never had as much to lose as they do. But I have lost 20 lbs. before and I gained it back being sick, but I'll get rid of it again- even if it's hard. They don't like hard things. I think they might listen to you and be inspired. I'm just their mom, what do I know, right? Thanks for all you do! Sue

  • Halli Reed - October 18, 2013

    I am currently 13 years old, and I was just diagnosed with hypothyroid. I have amost all the symptoms-always tired,dry skin and hair etc. I knew something has been wrong because I'm only 4 foot 6,extremely short.I haven't grown in over two years and I used to get made fun of. My doctor didn't suspect anything because noonw in my family has it. Thanks for posting this!

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