As your child reaches puberty, your doctor (especially if your child is seeing an endocrinologist, gynecologist or has been on psychiatric medications for a long period of time), may wish to have blood tests done to show various hormone levels One of these, especially in girls, will be the prolactin levels Prolactin levels can be elevated in both males and females.. The two basic questions to be asked are “what is causing this?” and “what does an elevated prolactin level mean?”
Well, several things can cause prolactin levels to elevate. The most common is in pregnant women getting ready to lactate. Prolactin is the hormone responsible. But elevated prolactin can also be due to medications, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, or tumors on the pituitary gland.
Any medicine that effects a person’s dopamine level, such as anti-psychotic medicines, has the ability to indirectly raise prolactin levels. This is because dopamine keeps prolactin levels in check. If dopamine is decreased or inhibited by medications, such as Haldol or Risperdal, the prolactin levels can rise.
Similarly, if a person’s thyroid is underactive or they have PCOS or other problems with their pituitary gland, prolactin levels can be elevated.
What are the problems associated with too much prolactin? Well the most problematic is milk secretion and breast development, especially in males. There are some long-term studies that indicate that too much prolactin in older women can increase the chances of osteoporosis.
High levels of prolactin can also inhibit fertility as well as sex drive.
And there is some research out there that links elevated prolactin levels with auto-immune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. But this information isn’t widely known and research is still underway as to the causal relationship. (Does a high prolactin level cause the auto-immune disorder or visa versa?)
Anyway, an elevated prolactin level, as shown by blood tests, is something to pay attention to. It can be an indication of other things that need to be tested and considered as well. Some researchers are starting to link epilepsy and seizures to increased prolactin levels.