Thyroid hormone therapy in congenital hypothyroidism and pediatric hypothyroidism

Endocrine. 2019 Oct;66(1):51-62. doi: 10.1007/s12020-019-02024-6. Epub 2019 Jul 26.


The evaluation and management of hypothyroidism in children are similar to adults, but there are important differences based on the dependence on normal thyroid function for neurocognitive and physical development. In the pediatric population, hypothyroidism is frequently categorized as congenital or acquired hypothyroidism, depending on the age of presentation and the underlying etiology. The evaluation and management of children and adolescents with hypothyroidism are determined by the etiology as well as by the age at diagnosis, severity of the hypothyroidism, and the response to thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Children and adolescents require higher weight-based doses for thyroid hormone replacement than do adults, likely due to a shorter half-life of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) in children, but weight-based dose requirements decrease as the child advances into adulthood. Multiple gaps in knowledge remains regarding how to optimize the treatment of hypothyroidism in pediatric patients, including (but not limited to) the selection of patients with subclinical hypothyroidism for treatment, and the potential benefit of combined LT3/LT4 therapy for patients with persistent symptoms and/or low T3 on LT4 monotherapy. The life-long impact on growth and development, and potentially on long-term cardiovascular and psychosocial health, are significant and highlight the importance of future prospective studies in pediatric patients to explore these areas of uncertainty.

Keywords: Acquired hypothyroidism; Congenital hypothyroidism; Hypothyroidism; Pediatric.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism / diagnosis
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism / etiology
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Hormones / therapeutic use*


  • Thyroid Hormones