The pituitary gland is a small pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. Its function is to control the production of a variety of hormones that affect growth and other bodily functions. These hormones stimulate other glands like the adrenal, thyroid and reproductive glands.
Many of the conditions that affect the pituitary gland are congenital, meaning they occur at birth. There are some that evolve over time or the symptoms are noticed over months or years. Other pituitary problems are related to tumors. Fortunately, 99 percent of pituitary-related tumors, referred to as pituitary adenomas, are benign. Pituitary adenomas are classified as functioning and non-functioning.
Functioning tumors produce too much hormone and non-functioning tumors do not.
As with many types of tumors, not all pituitary adenomas affect a child’s normal activities but as a tumor grows, it may cause a variety of conditions that affect a child in different ways.
Within one of these three groups, the most common pediatric pituitary disorders include:
More rare forms of pituitary disorders include Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, Craniopharyngioma and others.
As a pituitary tumor grows in a child, the following pediatric pituitary symptoms may become apparent:
When a child starts to experience the symptoms of pituitary disorders, a comprehensive review of the child’s medical history will be evaluated along with a thorough physical examination to establish a diagnosis. The examination will include blood tests and in some cases a brain scan will be ordered to search for a tumor and then identify its size and scope.
Once a diagnosis has been established, treatments may include prescription hormone therapy, surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of these methods.
If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, call Dr. Joshua Smith or fill out the form below to request an appointment. Dr. Smith is the region’s only specialist in pediatric endocrinology and is specifically trained to properly diagnose and treat pituitary disorders.