Congenital Hypothyroidism generally occurs when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This is mostly caused by the failure of the thyroid gland to develop normally. Where the word “Congenital” means that your baby was born with this condition and “Hypothyroidism” refers to the fact that your baby’s thyroid gland is producing too little thyroid hormone.
Importance of diagnosis and treatment early
It is quite essential to know that babies with congenital hypothyroidism can look healthy at birth but still may have this disorder. Nevertheless, babies who are not treated may have serious and permanent health problems.
Thyroid and it’s affects
Basically, the thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is shaped like a butterfly and is precisely located in the neck. One of the important hormones produced by the endocrine gland is called thyroxine or T4. The pituitary gland located at the base of the brain is responsible for producing thyroid-stimulating hormone also called (TSH).
Hypothyroidism and Hormonal Imbalances
When the level of thyroxine is low in the bloodstream, the pituitary gland tends to make more TSH in an attempt to stimulate the thyroid to make more thyroxine. Regrettably, in babies with congenital hypothyroidism, this process does not work because the thyroid is absent, or too small, or cannot respond to the TSH.
Role of the thyroid hormone in the body
The thyroid hormone is responsible to control the body’s metabolism and affects the rate of the baby’s development and growth. It also helps in regulating normal body temperature, maintaining a normal heart rate, maintenance and ensuring proper functioning of the digestive tract which includes bowel movements. It further results in the normal development of the brain and nervous system.
Tests that should be ordered for your baby
TSH and free T4 levels – These levels are measured through the blood sample taken from the vein and is often checked in the first year of life. These levels are checked every 4-8 weeks during the first year of life as stated by most recommendations.
Thyroid Ultrasound – This test is nothing but a simple ultrasound test used to visualize the thyroid gland. It basically helps us to know if the thyroid is in the correct location and is of normal size or not.
Treatment for Congenital Hypothyroidism
Once the baby is identified with congenital hypothyroidism, the thyroid hormone replacement should be started immediately. The medication that is generally prescribed for this is Levothyroxine. These medications typically have no side effects when given in the correct amount.
How should one give medication to their baby?
Levothyroxine is mostly available in tablets form. One has to give the tablets at the same time every day. For newborn infants, the tablets need to be crushed and given very precisely and carefully. It is recommended that the crushed tablets should be mixed with a small amount of water or breast milk and should be given to your baby by either a dropper or a small syringe.
Determination of Baby’s dose
The dosage of the medication for your baby should always be decided by the pediatric endocrinologist. It is because, they make their decision based on blood test results, physical examinations, and history of symptoms.
Will the baby grow up to be normal?
Today, when children are born with congenital hypothyroidism are started on their treatment at a very young age and receive careful follow-up by their doctors don not grow up to have severe growth and development delays. So, it is quite normal that children with congenital hypothyroidism who are treated with thyroid hormone and are carefully followed by their doctors will develop and function as normal adults only.