What is hyperprolactinemia?
This condition is marked by abnormally high levels of the hormone prolactin (which stimulates breast milk production during and after pregnancy) in the blood. It is caused by a benign tumor (prolactoma) in the pituitary gland, which controls production of this hormone. It is not clear what causes prolactomas to develop. They appear to occur spontaneously and are not inherited. The tumor can develop both in men and women. In some cases, tumors other than prolactomas that are located in or around the pituitary block the flow of dopamine from the brain to the prolactin-secreting cells leading to hyperprolactinemia. Another cause of hyperprolactinemia is hypothyrodism or underactive thyroid.
- In menstruating girls, erratic or absent periods
- Milk production in the breast in non-pregnant women and sometimes in men
If prolactoma is suspected, blood tests can determine if prolactin levels are higher than normal. MRI and CT imaging can be used to look for tumors and determine their exact location and size.
Several medications can decrease levels of prolactin and relates symptoms. Surgery is an option if medications fail to return prolactin levels to normal and reduce tumor size.
When to Call for Help
If any of the above signs develop in your child, talk to your pediatrician.
At Hopkins Children’s, prolactomas and hyperprolactinemia are treated by the division of Endocrinology.