, Volume 24, Issue 9, pp 659-675
Date: 11 Mar 2014

The spectrum of thyroid diseases in childhood and its evolution during transition to adulthood: Natural history, diagnosis, differential diagnosis and management

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In this contribution, we review current knowledge on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and differential diagnosis of thyroid disorders in childhood and adolescence, as well as present an update on therapy methods and management guidelines for these disorders. This overview is conceptually divided into two parts, one focusing on thyroid functional disorders, i.e. conditions leading to hyper- and hypothyroidism, and another one pertinent to structural abnormalities of the thyroid gland, i.e. nodular disorders and thyroid cancer. Currently, congenital hypothyroidism is diagnosed in a much more timely fashion rather than in the past, rendering hypothyroidism-related mental retardation and developmental deficits very rare in newborns and children and, hence, diminishing significantly its public health impact. At the same time, considerable advances have occurred in our understanding of the molecular basis of several genetic conditions affecting the thyroid gland in childhood, such as familial non-autoimmune hyperthyroidism, as well as of the pathways leading to thyroid neoplasia.