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Pediatric Endocrinology Fact Sheet
Congenital Hypothyroidism: A Guide for Families
What is congenital hypothyroidism? discharge from the hospital. This process is called newborn screen-
Hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid gland. Congenital hy- ing. When there is a positive result (a low level of thyroid hormone
pothyroidism occurs when a baby is born without the ability to make with a high level of thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary),
normal amounts of thyroid hormone. Congenital hypothyroidism occurs the screening program immediately notifies the baby's doctor, usually
in about 1 in 3,000 to 4,000 newborns. It is often permanent with life- before the baby is 2 weeks old. Before starting treatment, your baby's
long treatment. Thyroid hormone is important for your baby's brain de- doctor will order a blood sample from a vein to confirm the diagnosis
velopment as well as growth; therefore, untreated congenital hypothy- of congenital hypothyroidism. In some cases, the doctor may order a
roidism can lead to intellectual disability and growth failure. However, thyroid scan to see if the thyroid gland is missing or too small.
because there is excellent treatment available, with early diagnosis and
treatment, your baby is likely to lead a normal healthy life. How is congenital hypothyroidism treated?
Congenital hypothyroidism is treated by giving thyroid hormone medi-
What causes congenital hypothyroidism? cation in a pill form called levothyroxine. Many babies will require treat-
Congenital hypothyroidism most often occurs when the thyroid gland ment for life. Levothyroxine should be crushed and given once daily,
does not develop properly, either because it is missing, it is too small, or mixed with a small amount of water, formula, or human (breast) milk
it ends up in the wrong part of the neck. Sometimes the gland is formed using a dropper or syringe.
properly but does not produce hormone in the right way. Sometimes Giving your baby thyroid hormone every day and having regular check-
the thyroid is missing the signal from the pituitary (master) gland that ups with a pediatric endocrinologist will help ensure that your baby
tells it to produce thyroid hormone. In a small number of cases, medi- will have normal growth and brain development. Your baby's endocri-
cations taken during pregnancy, mainly those for treating an overactive nology doctor will do periodic thyroid function tests so that the dose
thyroid, can lead to congenital hypothyroidism, which is temporary in of medication can be properly adjusted as your baby grows. Please see
most cases. Congenital hypothyroidism is usually not inherited through the Thyroid Hormone Administration: A Guide for Families handout for
families. This means that if one baby is affected, it is unlikely that other a list of foods to avoid giving your baby at the same time as thyroid
babies you may have in the future will have the same condition. medicine. This includes soy milk, vitamins with iron, and calcium. These
foods can interfere with the absorption of the levothyroxine from your
What are the signs and symptoms baby's gastrointestinal tract.
of congenital hypothyroidism? The hormone in the levothyroxine pill is identical to what is made in the
The symptoms of congenital hypothyroidism in the first week after birth body, and you are just replacing what is missing. In general, side effects
are not usually obvious. However, sometimes, when hypothyroidism is occur only if the dose is too high, which the endocrinologist can avoid
severe, there may be poor feeding, excessive sleeping, weak cry, consti- by checking blood levels on a periodic basis.
pation, and prolonged jaundice (yellow skin) after birth. When examin-
ing these babies, doctors may find a puffy face, poor muscle strength, Pediatric Endocrine Society/American Academy of Pediatrics
and a large tongue with a distended abdomen and larger than normal Section on Endocrinology Patient Education Committee
fontanelles (soft spots) on the head.
How is congenital hypothyroidism diagnosed?
Given the difficulty in diagnosing congenital hypothyroidism in the
newborn period based on signs and symptoms, all hospitals in the Unit-
ed States, under the supervision of state health departments, screen
for this disease using blood collected from your baby's heel before
Copyright ? 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrine Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute
for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Can thyroid be cured by home remedies? massage your neck area with this cloth (it can be upward, downwards or circular moments, someone can help you out because with your own hands you may not do it effectively. It may sound damn simple and easy but one of the best remedy for thyroid will be just water , atleast try to drink 2 litres of water daily .
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