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Hypoparathyroidism in Children

What is hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is caused by underactive parathyroid glands. Parathyroid glands are tiny glands located near the thyroid. 

Illustration of the thyroid glad and its location
Thyroid Gland - Click to Enlarge

Underactive parathyroid glands do not produce enough parathyroid hormones. This causes low levels of calcium in the bloodstream. The low levels of calcium lead to tetany, an increased excitability of the nerves that cause muscle spasms. 

What causes hypoparathyroidism?

Causes of hypoparathyroidism include accidental removal of a parathyroid gland when the thyroid is removed, or when part of the parathyroid tissue is removed during surgery. In some cases, an infant may be born without parathyroid glands. Sometime the cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms of hypoparathyroidism?

Each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Numbness around mouth or in hands or feet 

  • Uncontrollable, painful spasms of the face, hands, arms, and feet

  • Seizures

  • Low blood pressure

  • Emotional instability, anxiety, or depression

  • Dental problems

  • Coarse, brittle hair 

The symptoms of hypoparathyroidism may look like other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

How is hypoparathyroidism diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, your doctor may do blood tests to measure the levels of salts and parathyroid hormone.

Specific treatment for hypoparathyroidism will be determined by your child's doctor in consultation with you and possibly a pediatric endocrinologist..

Treatment may include an injection of calcium to provide immediate relief of symptoms and/or your child taking calcium and vitamin D tablets for the rest of his or her life.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/25/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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