Dangers of Hypothyroidism in Newborns and Infants

About Hypothyroidism:

Hypothyroidism is quite a common condition seen across the United States. It occurs when the thyroid gland of the body is not able to make enough hormones required by the body to function normally. The function of the thyroid gland is to produce and release hormones which help in metabolism of the body. These hormones also regulate the heart rate and help burn calories to produce energy which is distributed to all the parts of the body.

The hormones produced by the thyroid gland also help in the digestive system to work smoothly. Thus if there is no enough hormones produced and released by the thyroid gland gradually the whole body system starts to become slow causing variety of symptoms and complications. Hypothyroidism affects females more than males. It is seen mostly in pregnant females, or people above the age of 60 even though there have been sporadic cases of this condition striking in young individuals as well.

An individual with hypothyroidism needs treatments in the form of thyroid supplements as soon as a diagnosis is made to prevent any unwarranted complications. It is also seen that some infants and newborns get affected with hypothyroidism especially to mothers who have an underactive thyroid and pass on the condition to their babies.

The article gives an overview of the dangers of a newborn or an infant having hypothyroidism.

Dangers of Hypothyroidism in Newborns and Infants

Dangers of Hypothyroidism in Newborns and Infants

Hypothyroidism in newborns and infants can be a serious threat to the overall health of the baby. An underactive thyroid in newborns and infants can lead to an underdeveloped brain causing mental retardation. It can affect the growth of the baby causing dwarfism. It has become a routine for all newborns across the United States to be checked for hypothyroidism so that immediate treatment can be given for babies with an underactive thyroid.

Newborns and infants can have underactive thyroid due to two primary reasons, namely congenital and acquired.

Congenital Hypothyroidism: This form of hypothyroidism is quite rare and occurs in about 1 out of 4000 live births in the United States. In such cases, more than 80% are due to dysgenesis of gland, 20% cases of abnormal production of thyroid hormones, and about 20-25% cases are due to partial or complete absence of the thyroid gland due to genetic abnormalities.

Iodine deficiency in the mother during pregnancy is also one of the causes of hypothyroidism in newborns and infants but this is not that prevalent in the United States as it is in developing countries around the world.

In some rare cases, due to genetic factors the pituitary gland, which controls hormones produced in the body, remains undeveloped or partially developed. This also results in the newborn or the infant having congenital hypothyroidism.

Acquired Hypothyroidism – This is the most common form of hypothyroidism. The causes of this condition are inflammation of the thyroid gland due to autoimmune conditions in the mother. This form of hypothyroidism occurs during late childhood when the child attains puberty.

In these cases also there is a genetic link as children with a direct family history of autoimmune thyroiditis are more vulnerable to get this condition than the normal population.

In some cases, a newborn or an infant may get hypothyroidism as a result of exposure to radiation which is quite rare. There are also certain medications like antiepileptics which may result in the thyroid becoming underactive.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 22, 2021

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