source: Graves' Disease & Thyroid Foundation
Watching a child undergo dramatic physical and emotional changes that seem uncontrollable is any parent’s nightmare. This feeling of helplessness may be compounded by the inability of the family doctor to diagnose Graves’ disease, which often occurs when subtle symptoms can easily be mistaken for other diseases that are much more common in children. It may take several appointments and tests before the doctor can pinpoint the problem. However, once the diagnosis is made, treatment and management of Graves’ disease should allow the child to return to normal routines and activities.
Graves’ disease in children rarely happens before age three and generally increases in frequency during adolescence. It occurs more often in girls than in boys, with an approximate ratio of 1:4. The incidence of childhood Graves’ disease is estimated at 1:100,000, with an average age of onset of 12.5 years. Children who have a history of thyroid disease in their families are more likely to develop thyroid disorders. Because of this tendency, doctors should be alerted to any thyroid history in the family, so that they can watch for changes in growth patterns and behavior.