Our bodies are complex mechanisms. They consist of several different systems that play vital roles in the way our bodies function on a daily basis. One of these systems is the endocrine system. Composed of hormone-producing glands, it is responsible for creating chemicals that act as messengers, communicating with the body by carrying instructions and information.
When there’s too little or too much of a certain hormone, that’s when an imbalance occurs. This can result in serious consequences and cause a range of different health problems. This can happen at any age, and children are often the ones to be diagnosed with endocrine problems. Here are some of the most common ones.
Type 1 Diabetes
Referred to as juvenile diabetes, this is a condition that occurs when the child’s body stops producing the necessary amounts of a hormone called insulin. This happens when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas get damaged. With little to no insulin to work with, the body cannot regulate blood glucose levels properly.
Because insulin is vital, those who develop this chronic condition need to take insulin on a daily basis to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Typically, type 1 diabetes starts when the child is in his or her teens but it can happen earlier. Currently, there is no cure for this condition, but there are ways to manage it. These include healthy habits, lifestyle changes, special diets, and insulin use.
Type 2 Diabetes
Once found only in adults, type 2 diabetes is an endocrine problem that used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes. It used to start during adulthood, hence the name. It wasn’t until recently that an increasing number of teens started getting diagnosed with this type of diabetes. This influx in diabetic children and teenagers prompted experts to change the name of this increasingly common disorder.
More common than type 1 diabetes, this condition occurs as a result of insulin not being used properly by a child’s body. This, in turn, causes the levels of sugar in their bloodstream to build up, which could lead to a range of serious health consequences, including nerve damage, kidney disease, eye disease, stroke, etc.
Often associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity is one of the most common endocrine problems in children and a serious health concern. In the United States alone, obesity affects one in five adolescents and children.
According to experts at the pediatric endocrine and metabolic center of Florida, obesity may be a symptom of underlying conditions, and addressing it may not always be as easy as encouraging your child to eat less. The right treatment will depend on the type of obesity they’re dealing with, so in-depth consultations with an obesity specialist are vital. Untreated, childhood obesity can result in severe health problems later on, including heart issues as well as the risk of particular types of cancer.
Hormonal imbalances are often the culprit behind childhood diabetes and obesity, but they can also be the cause of particular growth disorders. It is true that all children grow at their own pace, and that this is largely influenced by genetics. Still, a child’s genetic potential may be hindered severely if there are problems with endocrine glands such as the pituitary, adrenal gland, and thyroid disorders.
There are other factors that determine a child’s height as well, including genetic syndromes, organ abnormalities, and nutritional deficiencies. If you’re worried about your child’s short stature, it’d be best to consult with an expert to see if there’s a reason for concern.
Puberty is the time when a child goes through a number of physical and psychological changes, as well as the time of sexual maturation. Pubertal disorders refer to sexual maturation that occurs either too early (precocious puberty) or when it is late (delayed puberty).
Generally speaking, occurrences in which girls younger than 8 years old and boys that are around 9 years of age when they enter puberty are examples of early puberty. Delayed puberty, refers to the onset of sexual development that occurs in girls at the age of 13 and boys at the age of 14.
Endocrine disorders are often the underlying cause for these pubertal disorders, although some experts associate precocious puberty with pregnant mothers’ exposure to endocrine disruptors, while some link the condition to the ongoing childhood obesity epidemic.
As endocrine problems among children become common, parents ought to familiarize themselves with the dangers of such disorders and the proper ways to address them. By being wary of symptoms and taking preventative steps, parents can help minimize their child’s risk of developing endocrine problems. This will go a long way in helping parents set their children up for a healthier and brighter future.