Hypopituitarism in Kids: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment

Posted: May 11, 2018 at 1:43 am

What is Hypopituitarism in Children?

The pituitary gland sends signals to other glands to produce hormones (for example, it makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH - which regulates production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland). The hormones released by the pituitary and other glands have a significant impact on important bodily functions, such as growth, reproduction, blood pressure, and metabolism (the physical and chemical processes of the body). When levels of one or more of these hormones are not properly balanced, the body's normal functions can be affected.

The pituitary gland produces several hormones.

In hypopituitarism, the level of one or more of these pituitary hormones is insufficient. The lack of hormone results in a loss of function of the gland or organ that it controls.

The most common pituitary hormone deficiency is growth hormone deficiency. In the United States, growth hormone deficiency occurs rarely with a frequency of less than 1 in 3,480 children.

Hypopituitarism in Children Causes

Hypopituitarism may be congenital (a condition present at birth) and caused by:

Hypopituitarism can also be acquired (a condition that develops later in life) and may be caused by:

Hypopituitarism in Children Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the child's age, underlying cause, and the involved hormone. Signs and symptoms may develop gradually and may not be specific.

Signs and symptoms that may be present in newborn babies include:

When to Seek Medical Care fo Hypopituitarism

Call the doctor or health care practitioner if the child develops symptoms.

Exams and Tests for Hypopituitarism

Blood tests may be performed to determine which hormone is low or absent.

The doctor may obtain an MRI of the brain to assess the structure of the pituitary or to detect a tumor.

Hypopituitarism Treatment

Treatment primarily involves hormone replacement therapy.


Drugs used to treat hypopituitarism replace the deficient hormone.

Hypopituitarism Surgery

Surgery may be performed if a tumor is present within or near the pituitary gland, depending on the type and location of the tumor, and depending on the symptoms being experienced.

Hypopituitarism Follow-up

The doctor or health care practitioner may schedule routine checkups every three months to monitor growth and development.

Frequent checkups for children on growth hormone replacement therapy may be scheduled to monitor progress and side effects.

A doctor who specializes in studying hormones (a pediatric endocrinologist) should supervise the treatment of children with hypopituitarism.

Outlook for Hypopituitarism

With appropriate treatment, the prognosis is very good.

John A. Seibel, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Endocrinology & Metabolism


"Causes and clinical manifestations of central adrenal insufficiency in children"UpToDate.com

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Hypopituitarism in Kids: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment

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