Endocrinology is the study of hormones. Hormones travel in the blood and control many important body functions by delivering signals between the cells. Insulin, for example, is a hormone that moves food energy from the blood into muscle, fat and liver cells. If your child’s body does not make enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects, your child may develop diabetes. Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which the body doesn’t properly control the amount of sugar in the blood.

The Endocrinology and Diabetes program at Seattle Children’s provides long-term care for children and teens with diabetes and other endocrine system problems, such as puberty, growth and thyroid disorders. We believe in caring for your child while helping you learn how best to manage your child’s condition. Seattle Children’s program meets national standards set by the American Diabetes Association. Our team is experienced in caring for growing children, and includes doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified diabetes nurse educators, dietitians and social workers. We work closely with you and your child’s primary care doctor to help your child thrive.

USNWR Diabetes 2018

Awards and Recognition

In 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked Seattle Children's as the #1 pediatric endocrinology and diabetes program in the Northwest, and among the top 10 nationwide.

Conditions We Treat

We care for children and teens with a broad range of endocrine disorders, including:

  • The adrenal glands release hormones that control many important functions, including puberty and your child’s response to stress. When the adrenal glands don’t work properly, your child may develop one of a number of disorders, depending on which hormone is affected. One of these disorders is Cushing’s syndrome. It happens when a person’s body makes too much of the stress hormone called cortisol. Another disorder is adrenal insufficiency, which occurs when the body makes too little cortisol.

  • The minerals calcium and phosphorus are important to many parts of the body. Calcium helps with brain, heart and muscle function. Together, calcium and phosphorus build strong teeth and bones. Many problems can develop when levels of calcium and phosphorus are too high (hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia) or too low (hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia). Calcium and phosphorus disorders are often caused by problems with production of the parathyroid hormone. They can also be the result of problems with the way vitamin D works in the body.

  • Diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to get too high. In type 1 diabetes, blood sugar levels rise out of control because the body has stopped making enough of the hormone called insulin. The job of insulin is to move sugar from the blood into cells. Type 1 diabetes is most often found when a person is a child or young adult. Read more. (PDF)

  • Diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t respond properly to the hormone called insulin, which moves food energy from the blood into cells. Glucose is less able to enter the cells and supply energy, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.

  • The gonads – testes in boys and ovaries in girls – produce most of the body’s sex hormones. When the gonads produce too little hormone (hypogonadism) or too much hormone (hypergonadism), health problems can occur. In girls, hypogonadism during childhood stops menstruation and breast development from occurring, and slows growth. In boys, too little sex hormone during childhood slows development of muscles and facial hair, and results in short stature. In both boys and girls, too much of the hormones can speed sexual development.

  • A growth disorder is any problem in babies, children or teens that prevents them from meeting what is considered normal growth. Many conditions can cause growth disorders, including those involving hormones (endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism). Growth hormone deficiency occurs when the pituitary gland does not produce enough of the hormone to make normal growth possible.

  • Lipid disorders occur when people have trouble keeping proper levels of body fats, including cholesterol, in the blood. In children and teens, some studies show that high levels of “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol add to the risk of developing heart disease early in life.

  • Puberty is the time of life when your child becomes mature sexually. Most often, it happens between ages 9 and 14 years for girls, and ages 11 and 16 years for boys. When children begin puberty unusually early or late, there may be a problem with the way hormones are released and used by their bodies. Puberty that begins very early – before age 8 in girls and before age 9 in boys – is called precocious puberty. In girls, when the first period (menstruation) hasn’t come by age 16 or breast development by age 14, doctors call the condition delayed puberty. For boys, the sign of delayed puberty is testicles that have not grown larger by age 14.

  • The thyroid gland produces hormones that help control the process that turns food into energy the body can use (metabolism). While there are several thyroid conditions, they can be divided into two main types. Hyperthyroidism is when the gland releases too much thyroid hormone, which can cause your child to stop gaining weight while growing. Hypothyroidism means too little hormone is in your child’s blood, which can slow growth and delay puberty. Read more about thyroid conditions and Seattle Children's Thyroid Program.

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.