The thyroid is a gland in the neck that makes the thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) can cause problems with growth and development, but it can be treated if it’s found early.
Late symptoms in newborns (neonatal hypothyroidism):
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes)
- Hoarse cry
- Poor appetite
- Umbilical hernia (navel protrudes out)
- Slow bone growth
Childhood (juvenile hypothyroidism) and adolescent (adolescent hypothyroidism) symptoms:
- Slow growth
- Delayed tooth development
- Feeling cold
- Slow growth
- Delayed puberty
- Hoarse voice
- Slow speech
- Droopy eyelids
- Puffy and swollen face
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Slow pulse
- Weight gain (modest, no more than 5-10 lbs)
Preventive service at no cost
All newborns are tested at birth.
Why screening is important
Most infants at birth will show no clinical symptoms of low thyroid hormone levels. Hypothyroidism in the newborn, when left untreated, can lead to intellectual disability and profound developmental delays.
What the screening is
Most newborn screening tests use a few drops of blood taken from the heel of your baby’s foot. The same sample of blood can be used to test for many different diseases.
Treatment may include prescription of thyroid hormones to replace the deficient hormones. Some children will require hormone replacement therapy for the rest of their lives, while others appear to outgrow the disorder, often by the age of three. Your child’s pediatrician will conduct regular monitoring.