Incidence of thyrotoxicosis in childhood: a national population based study in the UK and Ireland

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Mar;72(3):358-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03717.x. Epub 2009 Sep 21.


Objective: To measure the UK and Ireland incidence of childhood (<15 years) thyrotoxicosis and to describe the presenting features.

Context: Incidence data on thyrotoxicosis in childhood are not available for the UK and Ireland. Recent studies have reported an apparent increase in cases in Europe.

Design: A national prospective surveillance study for 12 months from September 2004, co-ordinated by The British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU).

Patients and measurements: All paediatricians across the UK and Ireland were requested monthly to report new cases. Details of presenting features were then obtained by questionnaire.

Results: One hundred ten cases of acquired childhood thyrotoxicosis were identified in the UK and Ireland. The incidence of acquired thyrotoxicosis was 0.9 per 100,000 <15 years olds in the UK and Ireland, (95% CI: 0.8-1.1). Autoimmune thyrotoxicosis accounted for 96% of cases. There was an increasing incidence with age in each sex. Females have a significantly higher incidence than males in the 10- to 14-year age group. A variety of presenting symptoms were reported: weight loss (64%), fatigue/tiredness (54%), change in behaviour' (50%) and heat intolerance (47%). 4.5 % cases were asymptomatic. The commonest signs were goitre (78%) and tremor (58%). There were no cases of thyroid storm.

Conclusions: This national population survey defines the incidence of thyrotoxicosis in children in the UK and Ireland during 2004-2005, which was lower than expected in comparison with other European studies. The survey illustrates contemporary presenting characteristics of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / epidemiology
  • Thyrotoxicosis / diagnosis
  • Thyrotoxicosis / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology