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We read with interest the recent comprehensive review of neonatal thyroid disorders, which gave evidence-based answers to many important questions. The author recommended that all babies born to mothers with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should be reviewed at 10 days to 2 weeks and a thyroid function test taken because infants may develop transient hypothyroidism or, very rarely, hyperthyroidism.1
As paediatricians, in a hospital with a paediatric endocrine caseload similar to some tertiary centres and a subregional neonatal intensive care unit with local deliveries of 6000 per annum, we think that the potential benefits of this practice are difficult to justify. We do understand that such practice will help in identifying babies who may develop transient congenital hypothyroidism caused by maternal thyrotropin receptor blocking antibodies. However, the incidence of this form of hypothyroidism has been estimated to be 1 in 180 000 normal infants (∼2 % of congenital hypothyroidism) and the majority of them will have raised thyroid stimulation hormone levels that can be detected by the current neonatal screening.2 Based on a simple calculation, in a unit of our size only one baby will be detected every 30 years. We feel that there would be major disadvantages if we are to adopt the author’s recommendation. Firstly, an extra hospital visit for babies and parents; secondly the need to bleed many healthy infants; and finally the potential for confusion and unnecessary anxiety. Until objective evidence emerges about the significance of subtle thyroid dysfunction in early life we feel that the current screening programme should not be extended.
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