The Basics of Congenital Hypothyroidism

There are some ailments that develop during a person’s life. However, there are also those health issues that are present from birth. These ailments are often branded to be congenital in nature. One of these congenital ailments would be “Congenital Hypothyroidism”.

What is Congenital Hypothyroidism?

Congenital Hypothyroidism is an ailment characterized by severe thyroid hormone deficiency observed in newborn babies. This kind of thyroid ailment may cause neurological function impairment, some physical deformities, as well as stunted growth. According to a study presented by Rastogi and LaFranchi entitled Congenital Hypothyroidism published in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases[1] about 1:2,000 up to 1:4,000 newborn experiences Congenital Hypothyroidism.

Congenital Hypothyroidism may have been observed to decline in the western world since iodized salt was introduced in the early parts of the 20th century; however, it is still a common issue in some developing countries.[2]

Causes of Congenital Hypothyroidism

Generally, Congenital Hypothyroidism may happen due to an issue with the thyroid gland of the newborn baby.

Another, likely reason is due to issues that arise throughout the mother’s pregnancy.

Iron deficiency, especially during pregnancy may affect in the baby’s brain development further causing damage in the long haul as well as neurocognitive impairment.[3]

Symptoms of Congenital Hypothyroidism

There are symptoms that can be observed to diagnose if a newborn has Congenital Hypothyroidism. These symptoms may possibly include any or all of the following:

Possible Treatments for Congenital Hypothyroidism

In order to diagnose or detect Congenital Hypothyroidism, newborns in some countries are having routine screening for the levels of thyroid hormones in their body. This screening test is done by taking a small sample of blood from the baby, particularly in the heel part. Then, it is sent to the laboratory for checking and assessment. In the laboratory, the baby’s T4, or thyroid hormone, and TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, are observed closely.

If Congenital Hypothyroidism is detected, pediatric endocrinologists then plans a treatment to manage the ailment. This treatment is executed by giving levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone. Treatment for Congenital Hypothyroidism must be done within the first month or 4 weeks[4] post birth. If not, the baby may suffer from permanent intellectual disability.

Levothyroxine is usually in pill form and it must be crushed and incorporated into the baby’s milk or water. However, not all formulas can be incorporated with this thyroid hormone as absorption may not be achieved. Therefore, it would be best to consult your doctor first prior to mixing the thyroid hormone into the baby’s formula milk.

While in the thyroid hormone treatment, the baby will still need to undergo blood tests routinely. This will help check their T4 and TSH levels to ensure that these are within normal ranges.


[1] Congenital Hypothyrodism. Rastogi, M. V., & LaFranchi, S. H. (2010). Congenital hypothyroidism. Orphanet journal of rare diseases, 5, 17. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-5-17.

[2] Congenital Hypothyroidism.

[3] The Iodine Deficiency Disorders.

[4] Congenital Hypothyrodism. Rastogi, M. V., & LaFranchi, S. H. (2010). Congenital hypothyroidism. Orphanet journal of rare diseases, 5, 17. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-5-17.

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