Written and reviewed by
MAMC, MRCPCH, MD - Paediatrics, MBBS
Hypothyroidism in newborn and children.
Frequently asked questions?
Q1. Did I do something wrong in my pregnancy which resulted in my baby having congenital hypothyroidism?
A The answer is most certainly NO. In the vast majority of cases, no cause can be identified and no link has been found with drugs, smoking or any particular foods
Q2. I am worried that I might miss giving my baby a dose of thyroxine. Would this matter?
A. Fortunately, thyroxine lasts in the body for quite some time and so even if a day?s dose is missed, your child will still benefit from the previous day?s dose. Clearly it is important to maintain a regular daily treatment and it will certainly matter if several days are missed.
Q3. Are there any side effects of thyroxine treatment?
A. No. Thyroxine is identical to the natural hormone produced by the thyroid gland and is a relatively simple chemical substance. It is really a replacement hormone treatment rather than a drug, so any side effects only occur if the dose is wrong. If too much thyroxine is given, symptoms of hyperthyroidism will occur. If not enough is given, the hypothyroid symptoms will return. Thyroxine tablets can be stored at room temperature, last a long time, and are widely available throughout the world.
Q4. What is the risk of having other children with hypothyroidism?
A. In the commonest form of hypothyroidism, i.E. When the gland has not developed properly, the risk of having another affected child is small, perhaps about 1 in 100. When the cause of hypothyroidism is due to a block in the production of the hormone, rather that normal development of the gland, the risk of having an affected child is much higher and is usually 1 in 4 in each pregnancy, with boys and girls equally affected. The late onset form of hypothyroidism also has an increase risk of brothers, sisters and other relatives having thyroid problems.
Q5. If my child is at risk of developing hypothyroidism, for instance they have Turner or Down?s syndrome, how often should they have a blood test?
A. Probably every one to two years, but your specialist will advise you on this.
Q6. How long will treatment last for?
A. We must assume that the treatment is for life as the thyroid gland will not grow again or recover, but the treatment is easy and well tolerated. White temporary or transient hypothyroidism does exist, it is uncommon, and most children will need to continue on thyroxine through adulthood. The dose will need to be increased to match their growth, but by the time adult life is reached the dose usually remains stable with the need for only an occasional blood test.
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