Why Are Adults More Prone To Hypothyroidism?

Written by Karin Priest on June 30, 2020

Hypothyroidism is a common ailment in the United States, with as many as 10 percent of the population suffering from it. Having hypothyroidism in adulthood is more common than in childhood, with most patients being diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44, according to a new study.

Why does hypothyroidism occur in adulthood? Why does hypothyroidism occur in adulthood?

Hypothyroidism refers to an abnormal state of thyroid function that disrupts hormone production in the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the neck.

This has a negative impact on thyroid function and consequently, produces low levels of thyroid hormones.

The exact mechanisms underlying hypothyroidism are unknown. Genetic factors could play a role in how much energy the body produces and their effect on thyroid function, for example.

In addition, there are a number of lifestyle factors that can also influence the production of thyroid hormones. These include how much exercise a person is exposed to and how much they smoke.

The findings of the study were published today in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Hypothyroidism in adults is common

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of severe, non-allergy-induced hypothyroidism in the U.S. was 8.1 percent in 2015.

Non-allergy-induced hypothyroidism - a more severe form of hypothyroidism - was also prevalent, with the rate at 16.2 percent, which was slightly more than one-fourth of the rate in all age groups combined.

One in five children under 18 has some form of hypothyroidism, though not all of these can be considered as severe, and they can also improve with treatment.

The breakdown in the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) is used to determine if someone has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This is also the recommended method of diagnosis for adolescents and young adults aged 6 to 18 years.

In the new study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, used a method called zero-humulus descent stratification to determine the rate of severe hypothyroidism among the 29,000 American participants.

Thyroid function more common in adulthood

Previous research had suggested that hypothyroidism in adulthood occurs more commonly than among childhood patients, however, the precise mechanisms behind this disparity are unclear.

"The risk of severe hypothyroidism was two to three times higher among adults than pediatric patients," says corresponding author John G. Marx, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

"The finding that our study found that most adults were afflicted with severe hypothyroidism indicates that there is a need for this disease to be classified in a way that specifically affects treatment for adults with the disorder."

In this analysis, the investigators classified severe hypothyroidism as exceeding 500 milligrams per decilitre, which could imply impairment in cognitive functioning, cardiovascular risk, vision impairment, kidney impairment, and adult-onset depression.

"Our study suggests that severe hypothyroidism can now be classified in a manner more consistent with the needs of adult hypothyroidism patients who receive treatment to ensure optimal outcomes and adherence to treatment, which may be difficult for some patients in the past due to limited screening methods," adds lead study author Ryan McTaggart, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Written by Karin Priest on June 30, 2020

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