Congenital hypothyroidism

November 15, 2023

What are roles of thyroid hormones?

Thyroid hormones are hormones produced from the thyroid gland, which located at the anterior part of the neck. Thyroid hormones have roles in regulation of body’s metabolism. In children, thyroid hormones also have important roles for growth and brain development.

What is congenital hypothyroidism?

            Congenital hypothyroidism is the condition in which production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland is too low. This condition is mostly caused by abnormality of thyroid gland, for examples, thyroid hypoplasia (small-sized), ectopic thyroid (abnormal location), or abnormalities in the process of thyroid hormones production. In some cases, this is caused by abnormality of pituitary hormone that controls hormone production of thyroid gland.

What are symptoms of infants with congenital hypothyroidism?

Usually, they are asymptomatic at birth. But after approximately 1 month, without treatment, symptoms will occur. Symptoms of this condition are, for example, increased sleep, decreased activity, feeding difficulty and prolonged jaundice. Physical examination may reveal large fontanelle, abdominal distension, umbilical hernia (mass at umbilicus), macroglossia (large tongue), and floppy muscle tone. Prolonged hypothyroidism may also result in impaired growth, delayed development and cognitive impairment.

How to diagnose this condition?

Screening test of congenital hypothyroidism is performed in every infant. So, early diagnosis since the infant is asymptomatic, and prompt treatment can be done, resulting in normal growth and development. Screening test usually be performed using blood collection from heel prick, at the age of 48-72 hours. If screening test is abnormal, parents will be contacted and the infant should be return to the clinic to get the blood tests for confirmation of congenital hypothyroidism.

What is the treatment of congenital hypothyroidism?

When the infant is diagnosed with this condition, thyroid hormone (oral medicine) treatment will be administered. The infant needs follow-up visits for clinical evaluation and blood tests. The doctor may adjust thyroid hormone dosage to keep normal blood level of thyroid hormones.

Compiled by  Asst.Prof.Dr. Manassawee Korwutthikulrangsri 



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