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Congenital hypothyroidism

(kuhn-JEN-uh-tuhl • hie-poh-THIE-roi-diz-uhm)

General Condition Information

Other Names

  • Congenital primary hypothyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Primary congenital hypothyroidism
  • Primary hypothyroidism

Condition Type

Birth Prevalence

  • Over a thousand babies are born each year in the United States with this condition.
  • Nearly twice as common in females compared to males.

Screening Finding

Increased levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and/or decreased levels of thyroxine (T4)

What is congenital hypothyroidism

Congenital hypothyroidism is a disorder that happens when the thyroid gland does not develop or work correctly.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck. It makes hormones that help in growth and development. It is also important for many body processes that help you live, such as metabolism.

In congenital hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland may be completely absent, or it may be too small or in the wrong place. In some cases, the thyroid may be normal-sized or even large. In all types of congenital hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not make enough of certain hormones that the body needs.

Babies with congenital hypothyroidism need treatment with medicines that replace the hormones normally made by the thyroid. If not treated, the low level of hormones leads to the signs and symptoms.

Newborn Screening and Follow-Up

Condition Details

Treatment and Management

It is important to talk to your health care provider about which treatment(s) are best for your baby. The goal of treatment is to prevent the health problems caused by this condition.

Treatments may include the following:

  • Treatment with thyroid hormones
  • Limited soy and iron, as these can affect absorption of the thyroid hormone medications

Children who receive early and ongoing treatment for congenital hypothyroidism can have healthy growth and development; however, thyroid hormone levels will need to be checked throughout your child’s life.

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