Reasons a Child May Need to See an Endocrinologist

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A close-up of a baby's foot next to a tape measure. (Image: adrian825/iStock/Getty Images)

An endocrinologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the area of studying the endocrine system--the system of glands in your body and associated hormones that the glands produce. Pediatric endocrinologists are physicians that not only practice endocrinology, but have expertise in treating children who need this type of specialized care. The reasons for your child needing to see an endocrinologist vary; your pediatrician will refer you to an appropriate doctor depending on the specifics of your child's health.

Unusually Short Stature

Children who are not growing as tall as their peers may need to see an endocrinologist to determine if they have a growth hormone deficiency. The Magic Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing information about children's growth disorders, explains that most kids grow at least 2 inches in height between the age of 2 years old and the onset of puberty. Children who do not meet this minimum criteria, or who suffer from a variety of conditions that can lead to short stature, may not produce enough of the hormones that control growth. An endocrinologist examines your child, takes a detailed family medical history and performs blood tests to measure hormone levels before making a diagnosis and prescribing a treatment.

Diabetes Diagnosis

A diagnosis of type-1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, may require a visit to a pediatric endocrinologist. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, kids who have type-1 diabetes can't produce insulin, a hormone that regulates how your body uses and distributes glucose, or sugar, because the immune system attacks the cells that make insulin. Type-1 diabetics are dependent on taking insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels; an endocrinologist can help you and your child learn how to administer insulin and adjusts dosages when needed.

Other Gland Problems

You may also need to send your child to an endocrinologist to address other problems involving hormonal imbalances of the glands that can affect bodily function. The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that the thyroid and pituitary glands can produce either too much or too little of their respective hormones, which can make metabolism and even heart function either too efficient, i.e. a racing heartbeat, or too sluggish. Adrenal gland problems that your child is born with, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or CAH, is another medical condition that is treated under the supervision of an endocrinologist. When the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, don't function properly, the pituitary gland makes more of its own hormones, which can in turn throw off your child's normal balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body, and can hamper the metabolization of sugar as well.

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