Graves' disease in children

Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2018 Dec;79(6):647-655. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2018.08.001. Epub 2018 Aug 16.


R1 The diagnosis of Graves' disease in children is based on detecting a suppression of serum TSH concentrations and the presence of anti-TSH receptor antibodies. 1/+++. R2 Thyroid ultrasound is unnecessary for diagnosis, but can be useful for assessing the size and homogeneity of the goiter. 2/+. R3. Thyroid scintigraphy is not required for the diagnosis of Graves' disease. 1/+++. R4. The measurement of T4L and T3L levels is not necessary for the diagnosis of Graves' disease in children but can be useful for the management and assessment of prognosis. 1/++. R5. In the absence of TSH receptor autoantibodies, the possibility of genetically inherited hyperthyroidism must be considered. 1/++. R6. Drug therapy is the primary line of treatment for children and consists of imidazole, carbimazole or thiamazole, with an initial dosage of 0.4 to 0.8mg/kg/day (0.3 to 0.6mg/kg/day for thiamazole) depending on the initial severity, up to maximum of 30mg. 1/++. R7. Propylthiouracil is contraindicated for children with Grave's disease. 1/+++. R8. Before starting treatment, it may be useful to perform a CBC in order to assess the degree of neutropenia caused by hyperthyroidism. It is not necessary to perform systematic CBCs during follow-up. 2/+. R9. An emergency CBC should be performed if symptoms include fever or angina. If neutrophil counts are <1000/mm3, synthetic antithyroid therapy should be discontinued or decreased and may be permanently contraindicated in severe (<500) and persistent neutropenia. Otherwise treatment may be resumed. 1/++. R10. Transaminases levels should be measured before initiating treatment. Systematic monitoring of liver function is not consensually validated. 2/+. R11. In cases of jaundice, digestive disorders or pruritus, measuring liver enzymes (AST, ALT), total and conjugated bilirubin and alkaline phosphatases is indicated. 1/++. R12. Patients and parents should be informed of the possible side effects of antithyroid agents. 1/+. R13. Therapeutic education of parents and children is important in ensuring the best possible treatment compliance. 2/++. R14. Given the specificities involved in the treatment of Graves' disease in children, medical care should be provided by a specialist accustomed to treating endocrinopathies in pediatric patients. 2/+. R15. Depending on patient age, the severity of the disease at diagnosis and the persistence of anti-TSH receptor antibodies, the initial course of treatment must take place over an extended period of 3 to 6 years. R16.The anticipated success rates of medical treatment (50% of patients in remission following several years of treatment) should be explained to the family and the child. The possibility that radical treatment may be required in case of failure or intolerance of medical treatment should also be discussed. 1/++. R17.In females with Graves' disease, it is important to explain that they must undergo an assessment by an endocrinologist before planning future pregnancies, from the start of pregnancy and during the course of pregnancy. This is true in all female patients, even those in remission after medical treatment, or those who have undergone radical treatment. R18.Indications for a radical treatment can arise in cases of: 1/+: contraindication to antithyroid agents; poorly controlled hyperthyroidism due to lack of compliance; relapse despite prolonged medical treatment; a request made by the family and child for personal reasons. R19.Surgery is the radical method of treatment used in children under 5 years of age, or in cases of very large, nodular, or compressive goiters. 2/++. R20. The surgeon's experience in dealing with thyroidectomies in children is likely to be the most significant determining factor in limiting the morbidity of the procedure (alongside any collaboration between a pediatric surgeon and an adult surgeon). 1/++. R21 When radical treatment is indicated, I-131 treatment may be discussed after 5 years (but more often after puberty), if the goiter is not too large. Experience from monitoring Graves' disease in North American children is reassuring. 1/++.

Keywords: Adolescent; Carbimazole; Child; Chirurgie; Enfant; Graves’ disease; Hyperthyroidism; Hyperthyroïdie; Iode radioactif; Long term; Long terme; Maladie de basedow; Prognosis; Pronostic; Radioactive iodine treatment; Surgery; Thiamazole.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Antithyroid Agents
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Graves Disease / complications
  • Graves Disease / diagnosis*
  • Graves Disease / epidemiology
  • Graves Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroidectomy / methods
  • Thyroidectomy / standards


  • Antithyroid Agents
  • Iodine Radioisotopes