Trusted Resources: Evidence & Education
Scientific literature and patient education texts
Diagnosing Graves’ Disease in Children
source: NYU Langone Health
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition that causes hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid, in children. That means the child’s own immune system attacks the thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck that makes two hormones—thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine (also known as T3). These hormones help the body transform food into energy, a process known as metabolism. They also play a role in regulating a child’s growth, development, and body temperature.
Usually, a hormone made in the pituitary gland called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) acts as a sensor that tells the thyroid to make more T3 and T4 when levels are running low. For unknown reasons, children with Graves’ disease develop antibodies that mimic the activity of TSH. These antibodies, called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins, attach themselves to the thyroid, sending a false signal that instructs the thyroid to produce too much T3 and T4.
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