Down's Syndrome Scotland - Learning Resources

Thyroid Dysfunction

People with Down’s Syndrome have an increased risk of thyroid problems with onset frequently occurring in childhood.

Both hyper and hypothyroidism are more common than in the general population. Lifetime prevalence of thyroid dysfunction for people with Down’s Syndrome is thought to be around 25% to 30%.

The most likely thyroid problem that may develop is hypothyroidism.


    Key Point

    Thyroid disorders can be subtle in their onset. Non-specific symptoms and signs can often be mistakenly or attributed to other illnesses or behaviours.



    Newborn babies have a neonatal screen for thyroid dysfunction shortly after birth, using the Guthrie Test (heel prick of blood).

    From twelve months old and then every two years thereafter a blood test should be obtained. A finger prick blood test can be taken which may be less distressing.


    Diabetes symptoms occur due to some glucose staying in the blood. The body tries to reduce glucose levels in the blood by passing urine. There are two types of diabetes.

    Type I diabetes is around 10 times more common in Down’s Syndrome and more commonly presents at an earlier age.

    Type II diabetes occurs with the same incidence as the general population but may occur with an earlier age of onset.


    Key Point

    People with Down’s Syndrome are less likely to report symptoms of diabetes. It is therefore important to be vigilant for this, especially in those with obesity or a family history of diabetes.

    34 33

    Quick Quiz

    Is weight gain a symptom of hypothyroidism?


    Is lethargy a symptom of hypothyroidism?


    Are hot flushes a symptom of hypothyroidism?


    Is increased energy a symptom of hypothyroidism?