Does hyperthyroidism cause short height?

by   |   Apr 17, 2024

Hyperthyroidism is a relatively rare disease that occurs during phases of childhood and adolescence, with around 1 in 5,000 children contracting this disease. However, imagine that one of your beloved children in the family unfortunately belongs to this group, which can be the most worrying time for the parents. They might wonder whether hyperthyroidism stunts their child’s growth before hitting the developmental stages. Let’s explore the scientific relationship between the overactive thyroid and the possible short stature as well as the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

How Thyroid Hormones Conduct Bone Lengthening

Thyroid Hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), act as a conductor that regulates the metabolism, energy levels, and overall development of the body. They stimulate the formation and maturation of tissues and organs, herein the bones, muscles, and brain. So, how does the thyroid affect growth and height?

Growth plates, located near the end of the long bones in the legs and arms, are not solid throughout childhood and adolescence. These special plates play a vital role in triggering bone elongation as long as they remain active.

Thyroid Hormones, typically thyroxine (T4), transmit messengers to signal the growth plates to start lengthening skeletal bone. In other words, thyroid hormones stimulate the multiplication and expansion of cartilage cells inside the plates. These flexible tissues can be seen as building blocks for new bone tissues. As children grow, cartilages gradually mature and are transformed into solid bones through the ossification process, leading to bone growth and height increase.

Besides, thyroid hormones’ cooperative function with growth hormones in the body should not be underestimated. Indeed, growth hormones induce the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver, triggering the activities of growth plates to promote skeletal longitudinal growth. Thyroid hormones, in addition, work synergistically with growth hormones to regulate bone growth. By enhancing the effects of GH and IGF-1 on the activation of growth plates, thyroid hormones further support overall bone development.

To ensure optimal growth, the levels of thyroid hormone need to be maintained balanced, or within a healthy range. During teenage ages, when bones are still growing, proper thyroid hormone levels are extremely important for achieving the most optimal quality of bone when it comes to density and strength. Lower levels of T4, or the so-called thyroid hormone deficiency, can stunt growth, while too much of it causes hyperthyroidism that can disrupt the normal growth process.

Hyperthyroidism and Growth Disruption

Overview of Hyperthyroidism

Hypothyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, is a medical condition characterized by the overactive thyroid gland that secretes an excessive amount of thyroid hormones that are needed by the body [1].

The thyroid gland, situated in the front of your neck, has a small, butterfly shape. This gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormones type T3 and T4, among which thyroxine (T4) is the main type of thyroid hormone involved in growth aspects. Specifically, thyroxine acts as a signal to trigger the activation of the growth plates and initiates the process of bone elongation.

Besides, thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating the metabolism activities within the body. With the proper levels of these hormones, the body can control its efficient production and utilization of energy to fuel the functions of various organs internally.

Hyperthyroidism’s Impact: Beyond the Increased Heart Rate

The increase in the concentration of thyroid hormones, or hyperthyroidism, leads to many severe complications. Here are the long-term effects of untreated hyperthyroidism:

  • Untreated hypothyroidism is the underlying culprit of many cardiovascular risk factors. Even a moderate increase in thyroid hormone is associated with around 20-80% increased risks of cardiovascular mortality [2]. Irregular heartbeats can cause blood clots, stroke, or heart failure.
  • Increased thyroid hormones can result in rapid heartbeats and elevated blood pressure. Subsequently, these cardiovascular effects expose patients to higher risks of palpitations, heart rhythm disturbances, and hypertension.
  • Systolic and diastolic myocardial dysfunction, dyslipidemia, and endothelial dysfunction are also other relative problems caused by hyperthyroidism.
  • Hyperthyroidism also drastically changes the conventional nature of our working metabolism within the body. Elevated metabolic activities lead to profoundly detrimental effects on our musculoskeletal system. Increased metabolism is equivalent to heightened energy expenditure. As a consequence, patients might experience muscle weakness, wasting, and potential breakdown of muscle tissues.
  • Excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, as said before, can accelerate bone resorption or breakdown. This process is carried out by osteoporosis, the cells responsible for removing the old bone tissues. As a matter of fact, the elevated rate of bone turnover inevitably leads to diminished bone mineral density and possible osteoporosis.
  • This implies the successive ramifications on the physical well-being of people with hyperthyroidism. For example, the feeling of fatigue and weakness.

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Does Hyperthyroidism Cause Short Height?

Potential for an Initial Rapid Growth Spurt in Children with Untreated Hyperthyroidism

Since thyroid hormones contribute to the effects of growth hormones and IGF-1 on the activation of growth plates. In abnormal conditions where thyroid hormones fail to stay at an equilibrium level, the growth plates are also susceptible to unexpected changes. Excessive thyroid hormones are believed to stimulate a period of faster-than-usual bone-lengthening process within the growth plates. Individuals with hyperthyroidism can observe a significant increase in their height within a short time.

There can be an initial rapid growth spurt in children with untreated hyperthyroidism; however, this faster-than-usual process comes with a hidden risk.

Risk of Premature Growth Plate Closure Due to Excessive Thyroid Hormone Stimulation

The undue secretion of thyroid hormones interrupts the normal process of bone maturation. As a result, prolonged exposure to these hormones signals the premature closure of the growth plates. Once the growth plates become fused or closed, further bone lengthening prematurely ceases.

Short Stature Risk

Biologically, if premature closure of growth plates happens by the completion of normal growth stages, short stature is the absolute outcome. This condition can limit a child’s capabilities of reaching the genetically predetermined height potential in adulthood.

Conclusion

In fact, hyperthyroidism can impose significant implications on the child’s development and height growth. The initial rapid growth spurt, which is deemed against the normal process of growth, cannot be seen as a positive sign. Conversely, untreated hyperthyroidism is the main cause of the foreseeable short stature of the children in their adulthood as the consecutive consequences of premature growth plate fusion.

Parents or guardians are highly encouraged to manage check-up appointments for their children if any of the hyperthyroidism symptoms are detected. Besides, it is critical to emphasize the importance of early detection, timely treatment, and proactive comprehensive management of hyperthyroidism to support the healthy development of children. Because hyperthyroidism not only causes potential short stature but also a wide array of fatal diseases that might threaten the well-being of the patients if left untreated.

Research articles

[1] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2024, April 9) Hyperthyroidism (Overactive thyroid). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism

[2] Duggirala, N. et al. Cardiovascular Complications of Hyperthyroidism. (2023). Journal of Critical Care & Emergency Medicine. 2(2): 1-7. https://www.onlinescientificresearch.com/articles/cardiovascular-complications-of-hyperthyroidism.pdf

Joybauer-howtogrowtaller-1

Jay Lauer is a renowned physician and nutrition expert specializing in helping people achieve optimal health and wellness. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Lauer has become a trusted voice, particularly in the field of natural height growth.

Dr. Lauer believes a nutrient-rich diet and healthy lifestyle are essential for maximizing growth potential. She develops personalized nutrition plans incorporating foods and supplements that support bone development and works closely with patients to achieve their height goals.

In addition to height growth, Dr. Lauer is an expert in weight loss, disease prevention, and overall wellness. She regularly shares her expertise through media outlets like The Today Show and Good Morning America.

Dr. Lauer recognized the need for a comprehensive resource on natural height increase and created the website HowToGrowTaller.com. The site provides proven strategies, nutrition plans, exercises, and support to help individuals feel more confident by achieving their desired height naturally and improving their quality of life.

Researcher Locations: 33 Whitehall Street, New York

Email: [email protected]

Education & Training Fellowship: Pediatric Psychology – Nemours Children’s Clinic – Jacksonville, 2003 Internship: Child Psychology – University of Florida, 2002 Board Certifications: American Board of Professional Psychology

Areas of Research:

Diabetes

Obesity

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