What Is Pediatric Endocrinology?
Our pediatric endocrinology department specializes in diagnosing and treating hormone imbalances and other problems with your child’s endocrine glands. Endocrine glands include the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, ovaries or testicles, hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. Pediatric endocrinologists understand how growth and development influence endocrine problems. Our pediatric endocrinologists specialize in managing the unique health needs of children and teens with endocrine or glandular conditions, such as diabetes, growth disorders, and reproductive system problems.
What Services Do We Offer
Endocrinology Consultants pediatric department provides specialized, multi-disciplinary care to children and adolescents with pediatric endocrine disorders. Our programs and services include:
- Growth, Thyroid and Puberty Disorders
- Obesity and Insulin Resistance
- Low Bone Mass
- Pediatric Diabetes
- Comprehensive Center for Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
- Pediatric Obesity
- Kids and Teens Healthy Weight Program
What Are Pediatric Growth Disorders?
If your child is shorter than other children of the same age and gender or is growing too fast, it could be due to a growth disorder. Your regular doctor can tell you if your child is short or tall for his/her age by plotting the height and weight on the growth chart.
Not all children who are growing slower or faster have a medical problem. Height depends on the parents’ heights: tall parents will have tall kids and shorter parents will have shorter children. This is called familial short stature or familial tall stature. Some children may just be growing slower and may catch up later called constitutional growth delay. Poor nutrition and over-nutrition can lead to short stature and tall stature, respectively. Chronic systemic illnesses can be a cause of poor growth. Genetic syndromes may be associated with either short or tall stature. Lastly, many endocrine conditions like growth hormone deficiency or excess, hypothyroidism/hyperthyroidism, Congenital Adrenal hyperplasia, early and late puberty etc can affect growth.
What are Pediatric Thyroid Disorders?
The thyroid is a small gland located in your child’s neck, just below the voice box, or larynx. The thyroid gland makes and releases thyroid hormones, chemical messengers which are essential for the body to function normally. Thyroid hormones play a role in regulating your child’s metabolism, energy level, heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Thyroid hormones are especially important for brain development in the first 2-3 years of life and the normal growth of young children.
The most common thyroid disorders observed in children are hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland produces too little hormone) and hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone). Thyroid disorders are diagnosed with the help of a complete medical history, physical examination, and blood testing. In the United States, newborns undergo mandatory screening for hypothyroidism shortly after birth, for it can have devastating consequences in infants if untreated. The treatment for thyroid disorders in children may consist of thyroid hormone replacement, anti-thyroid medications, or, in some cases, surgery.
What is Pediatric Obesity and Insulin Resistance?
Childhood obesity is dangerous because it can lead to serious health conditions, both during childhood and well into adult life. For example, Type 2 Diabetes has classically been considered a disease of adulthood but its prevalence in children is on the rise, largely due to obesity.
How does being overweight cause diabetes? Excess weight leads to the development of insulin resistance, a state in which the body struggles to efficiently utilize the carbohydrates from the foods that we eat. Over time, this leads to high blood sugars and the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes mellitus type 2, if uncontrolled, can lead to numerous complications, including recurrent infections, poor wound healing, nerve disease, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Educating children and adolescents with obesity and insulin resistance about essential healthy habits, such as meal planning and regular exercise, may improve future health outcomes by establishing a precedent of health consciousness optimal glucose control. On occasion, medication may be necessary to treat insulin resistance and/or elevated glucose levels.
What is Pediatric Low Bone Mass?
Low bone mass in children is a condition in which the bones are not as dense as they should be, which can cause bones to fracture more easily than normal.
Low bone mass is also called osteopenia or osteoporosis, depending on how severe the condition is. Causes of low bone mass in children include a genetic disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta, kidney disease, metabolic diseases, and insufficient intake of calories. The diagnosis of low bone mass often includes a thorough medical history and physical exam, blood testing, and a bone density scan.
Once the underlying cause of low bone mass is discovered, a management plan can be started to promote good bone health and prevent fractures in the future.
What is Pediatric Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder in which the body is unable to utilize sugar properly. The body needs insulin, a hormone to utilize the blood sugar. Diabetes occurs when either the body is not producing enough or any insulin. Diabetes in the pediatric population can either be type 1 or type 2.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. It may or may not run in families. It is mostly autoimmune. The body forms autoantibodies against the pancreas which causes the destruction of the pancreatic cells decreasing the levels of insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is still making insulin but is not able to make enough. The body is unable to respond to the amount of insulin produced, called insulin resistance. It is usually associated with obesity and may run in families.
What is Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)?
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is a genetic disorder that affects the adrenal glands, which are two glands located just on top of our kidneys. The adrenal glands are endocrine organs responsible for producing and releasing three types of hormones:
- Cortisol, which regulates energy, blood pressure, blood sugar, and helps us recover from illnesses
- Aldosterone, which regulates the amount of sodium and potassium in our bloodstream
- Androgens, which are responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics (adrenarche) in both males and females.
All three of these adrenal hormones are necessary for normal body functioning in both males and females. In patients with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, the adrenal glands typically produce too little cortisol and aldosterone, while producing too much of the androgen hormones. Excess levels of androgens can cause atypical genitalia, growth abnormalities, early puberty, and problems with fertility. All infants born in the United States are screened for Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia shortly after birth. If your child is diagnosed with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, additional tests including blood tests and imaging tests, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, are often done. Ultimately, genetic testing is used to confirm the diagnosis.
CAH is a condition that requires long-term follow-up and monitoring. The treatment involves life-long cortisol with or without aldosterone replacement therapy, in order to make up for what the adrenal glands are unable to produce themselves. In some cases, surgery is required.