To describe the presenting features and molecular genetics of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) in the paediatric population.
Retrospective study of 63 children diagnosed with primary PHPT from 1998 to 2018.
Compared to older children, infants were often asymptomatic (54% vs 15%, P = 0.002) with a milder form of PHPT. When symptomatic, children and adolescents mostly presented with non-specific complaints such as asthenia, depression, weight loss, vomiting or abdominal pain. A genetic cause of PHPT was identified in about half of this cohort (52%). The infancy period was almost exclusively associated with mutation in genes involved in the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) signalling pathway (i.e. CaSR and AP2S1 genes, ‘CaSR group’; 94% of infants with mutations) whereas childhood and adolescence were associated with mutation in genes involved in parathyroid cell proliferation (i.e. MEN1, CDC73, CDKN1B and RET genes, ‘cell proliferation group’; 69% of children and adolescents with mutations). Although serum calcium levels did not differ between the two groups (P = 0.785), serum PTH levels and the urinary calcium/creatinine ratio were significantly higher in ‘cell proliferation group’ patients compared to those in the ‘CaSR group’ (P = 0.001 and 0.028, respectively).
Although far less common than in adults, PHPT can develop in children and is associated with significant morbidity. Consequently, this diagnosis should be considered in children with non-specific complaints and lead to monitoring of mineral homeostasis parameters. A genetic cause of PHPT can be identified in about half of these patients.