Hypopituitarism in Children

April 9, 2023
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Hypopituitarism can be a confusing and scary condition to encounter, as it can require testing and multiple appointments to understand what’s going on with your child. Fortunately, treatments are available, and this condition is very often manageable.

If your child has been diagnosed with this condition, or you are researching potential causes for growth and hormone-related issues, learning as much about hypopituitarism is an essential first step. This guide will help you understand the causes and treatments for this diagnosis so that you can make informed and proactive care decisions. We want to help you make care decisions to give your child and family the best possible outcome and quality of life.

What is Hypopituitarism?

Also known as an underactive pituitary gland, hypopituitarism is a hormone deficiency due to a dysfunctional pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a very small area in the brain that controls the production and function of hormones. These hormones control many of the most basic bodily functions, including growth, metabolism, and blood pressure.

Hypopituitarism can affect a number of different hormones, with the most common type being growth hormones. Other types of hormones affected can include adrenal hormones and thyroid-stimulating hormones that control metabolism. Because of this, many children with hypopituitarism deal with growth-related issues, including developmental delays and short stature.

Hypopituitarism can often be improved by treating the underlying condition or disease that is the cause, if it can be identified.

Hypopituitarism Causes

In many cases, hypopituitarism is a congenital condition, meaning it develops in the womb with no exact cause often found. Other causes include non-cancerous tumors, infections, autoimmune disorders, and brain injuries early in life. In other situations, certain medications and cancer treatments may cause hypopituitarism.

Hypopituitarism Risk Factors

Risk factors that increase the chances of hypopituitarism developing include:

  • Bleeding during pregnancy
  • Childhood cancer, due to some cancer treatments causing hypopituitarism
  • Previous infections during infancy and early childhood
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Too much iron in the body

Hypopituitarism is not generally a preventable condition, but being aware of potential risk factors and symptoms can help with early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Hypopituitarism Symptoms

Multiple symptoms are a common problem in children with hypopituitarism. The specific symptoms a child may experience depend on which hormones are being affected by the condition. For example, children with a growth hormone deficiency are more likely to experience delayed growth.

The most commonly reported symptoms of hypopituitarism in children can include:

  • Jaundice at birth, characterized by a yellow tint to the skin
  • Slow growth
  • Short height
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Low appetite
  • Headaches, if related to a head injury
  • A smaller penis in boys

Doctors can use the symptoms to diagnose this condition and hopefully identify the underlying cause.

Diagnosing Hypopituitarism

The diagnostic process for hypopituitarism generally involves the following steps:

  • Questions about symptoms and how they are affecting quality of life
  • Review of patient and family medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests to check hormone levels
  • Biopsy of the pituitary gland
  • Diagnostic imagery, including CT scan, MRI, and X-ray to take detailed pictures of different parts of the body to measure bones, organs, and other indicators of hypopituitarism

Hypopituitarism Treatment Options and Managing the Condition

Children with hypopituitarism are often referred to a specialist, such as an endocrinologist, to help develop an effective treatment plan. One of the most common forms of treatment is hormone replacement therapy, particularly if the underlying cause cannot be identified. If a tumor is found to be causing hypopituitarism, then surgery will usually be indicated.

In cases where the underlying issue can be addressed, such as surgically removing a tumor, children with hypopituitarism can often recover from this condition. Other children may require ongoing care, including hormone replacement therapy. Although it is often a lifelong condition, children should be able to expect a normal lifespan.

Caring for a Child With Hypopituitarism

Children with hypopituitarism often have ongoing care needs, including regular specialist appointments, medication, and other forms of therapy. It is also common for children to have emotional and behavioral needs that benefit from therapy and support groups.

Families with multiple children and busy schedules living with conditions such as hypopituitarism very often benefit from the assistance of pediatric home health services. A caring pediatric RN or LPN can help with any number of needs, from nutritional assistance to administering medication to accompanying children to appointments.

From any cause or severity of hypopituitarism, pediatric home health can be personalized to provide the level of care your child deserves.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offers one-on-one care in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.