Further testing with a doctor who specializes in thyroid problems revealed that my daughter had high beta carotene levels and low vitamin A--her body wasn't converting the beta carotene into vitamin A. Not converting beta carotene into vitamin A is a sign of a thyroid problem or a subclinical thyroid problem. High beta carotene and low vitamin A are not the only signs of an underactive thyroid--her thin hair, mood problems, puffy face and puffy eyes and poor growth were all are suggestive of a thyroid problem. Interestingly, when my daughter was sick with a fever she complained of he eyes hurting, which is sign of low vitamin A levels.
It turns out viruses--including the measles virus--can lower your vitamin A levels and low vitamin A levels to begin with can make it hard to fight the virus. According to the World Health Organization on Measles: "Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%." Theoretically, most people are not deficient in Vitamin A--because if you can convert beta carotene into vitamin A--then a half a carrot a day will be enough vitamin A, but if you are not making the conversion because of a thyroid problem, you can become low in vitamin A. Environmental toxins such as pesticides can cause hypothyroidism so low thyroid levels might be a bigger problem today than they were in the past.
I suspected a thyroid problem a year ago and took her to an endocrinologist, who determined that her thyroid level of 3.75 was normal because it was in the normal range. But in January 2003 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists decided the range should actually be 0.3 to 3 and based on her high TSH and many symptoms she should have been treated for a thyroid problem last year. One doctor that I spoke to said anyone with a TSH over 2.25 with a severe mood problems should suspect a low thyroid and consider treatment.
It is interesting that now that my daughter is on thyroid medication several doctors have looked at her previous test and wondered why she was left untreated for the last year. In addition to the thyroid medication we have her on cod liver oil--which is a natural form of vitamin A. She looks better and is healthier. I wouldn't say she is the picture of health--but she is so much better than she was and her puffy face and eyes have lessened. Thyroid medicine doesn't work for everyone. Oprah felt horrible on thyroid medication and I felt horrible on a compounded thyroid hormone and completely well on a mainstream thyroid hormone. So supplementation can be tricky--you really need exactly the right hormone level to feel well--and this is more of an art than a science.