Doctor's Notes on Hypopituitarism in Children
Hypopituitarism in children is a condition in children (and adults) where the pituitary gland does not produce enough hormones of one or more types (ACTH, FSH, GH, TSH, ADH, and prolactin). In children, signs and symptoms vary with age, underlying cause, and hormone type; they may not be specific and may develop gradually. In newborns, signs and symptoms include
- small genital organs,
- low blood sugar (newborn is sluggish, jittery, or has seizures),
- irritability due to diabetes, and
- excessive urination.
Older infants and children may have one or more of these signs and symptoms:
- short stature,
- mental development delay,
- increased thirst and urination,
- abnormal weight gain,
- delayed or absent puberty,
- headaches, and
- visual problems.
Hypopituitarism in children is caused by genetic (inherited) problems, a defective, underdeveloped, or absent pituitary gland, birth trauma, and central nervous system defects. Hypopituitarism in children can be acquired or caused by the following conditions: radiation to the head, brain tumors, or any condition that can alter the pituitary gland like infection by TB bacteria or infiltration by sarcoidosis.
What Is the Treatment for Hypopituitarism in Children?
The main treatments for hypopituitarism in children are medications to replace hormones that the pituitary gland has slowed or stopped producing or influencing, given by mouth, patch, or injection, with the goal of returning the patient's hormone levels to normal levels:
- Corticosteroids (like hydrocortisone)
- Somatropin (growth hormone; often with very good responses)
- Vasopressin or desmopressin (for diabetes insipidus)
Also, pituitary tumors can be treated by surgical removal and radiation; other medications may be added to control underlying causes.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.