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Thyroid Dysfunction

Adapted from: Patterson, Bonnie (2003). "Down Syndrome Medical Issues Research." PowerPoint Presentation given at Healthcare Symposium. Shriner's Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky, June 21, 2003.

Thyroid disorders are prevalent in persons with Down syndrome, with hypothyroidism occurring much more frequently than hyperthyroidism. Autoimmune factors may play a role in the etiology of hypothyroidism in Down syndrome, although the exact relationship is not completely understood. Studies have demonstrated that thyroid hormone levels may gradually decrease during the adolescent years. Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction may thus become more evident during this time. Thyroid dysfunction may have implications for multiple systems; cardiovascular, immune, and central nervous system effects are frequently seen. Undetected hypothyroidism may contribute to the decline in mental function over time frequently seen in individuals with Down syndrome, as well as to depression. Thyroid hormone levels should thus be monitored at least annually in affected individuals.