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Horm Res Paediatr. 2010;74(5):305-11. doi: 10.1159/000320028. Epub 2010 Oct 2.

Pediatric Graves' disease: controversies in management.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yale Pediatric Thyroid Center, Section of Developmental Biology and Endocrinology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



Graves' disease (GD) is the most common cause of thyrotoxicosis in children and adolescents. Caused by immunologic stimulation of the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor, lasting remission occurs in only a minority of pediatric patients with GD, including children treated with antithyroid drugs (ATDs) for many years. Thus the majority of pediatric patients with GD will need thyroidectomy or treatment with radioactive iodine (RAI; (131)I).


When ATDs are used in children, only methimazole should be used. Propylthiouracil is associated with an unacceptable risk of severe liver injury in children and should never be used as first-line therapy. If remission (defined as normal thyroid function off ATDs) is not achieved after 1 or 2 years of ATD therapy, (131)I or surgery may be considered, with the choice influenced by the age of the individual. When (131)I is used, administered doses should be >150 μCi/g of thyroid tissue. When surgery is performed, near total or total thyroidectomy is recommended.


Choosing a treatment approach for childhood GD is often a difficult and highly personal decision. Discussion of the advantages and risks of each therapeutic option is essential to help the patient and family select a treatment option.

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