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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 6, Lesson 2

Endocrine Disorders

Endocrine disorders are disorders associated with ductless glands such as the thyroid, the pancreas, the adrenals, and the pituitary. Some of the most common endocrine disorders include diabetes and hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Children's Hospital in Wisconsin has a website that is easy to navigate and contains information about numerous endocrine disorders affecting children. Most persons have heard about diabetes. This is a life altering endocrine disorder that affects a person's ability to metabolize carbohydrate due to a malfunction in the pancreas that affects the body's ability to produce insulin. The ITDS should particularly be alert to symptoms of low blood sugar in young children such as the symptoms of disorientation, unusual pallor, and sleepiness.

The over or under production of thyroxin that is the thyroid hormone also causes the infant and toddler to have issues in growth and development and can affect cognitive abilities if untreated. To read about these endocrine conditions in detail go to Children's Hospital and Health System and type in endocrine conditions, diabetes, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

There are a number of endocrine disorders that cause nutrition problems in infants and toddlers and the ITDS is wise to access the internet and also the local library when a child is referred with a condition that is unfamiliar. All aspects of development including symptoms and common recommended intervention strategies should be researched, if possible, prior to meeting the child and family.

Management of Nutrition

group in a meetingA key to managing nutrition is the assessment of developmental and neurological status and involvement of team members to address issues. The team can consist of a pediatric nutritionist, an endocrinologist, a developmental pediatrician, a behavioral specialist, the ITDS, and individual therapists as determined based upon the presenting information for the child and family. The assessment should consist of age appropriateness of feeding skills and the daily routines of the child and family. An assessment of aspiration risk and assessment of gastro-esophageal reflux are specific assessments that may be needed. Remember, the ITDS does not operate outside of the scope of practice for their individual regulated profession, but consults with the appropriate specialist together with the family so that everyone is working together to promote the nutrition plan. One program that may be considered by the team to assist in nutritional management and support for an infant or toddler is the Florida WIC Program Applications in English, Spanish and Creole are accessible on-line.


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