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October 1985

Congenital Hypothyroidism: The Effect of Stopping Treatment at 3 Years of Age

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Am J Dis Child. 1985;139(10):1028-1030. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1985.02140120074031

• Fifty-six children with congenital hypothyroidism diagnosed by neonatal screening were reviewed at 3 years of age or older. The presence or absence of the thyroid gland was determined by radionuclide scanning prior to treatment in the newborn period. Thyroxine therapy was discontinued In those children who did not have anatomic defects or a secondary rise in their thyrotropin (thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH]) level once it was suppressed by thyroid hormones. Sixteen of 17 children developed a low thyroxine and an elevated TSH level within three to six weeks. One child was not receiving thyroxine for nine months and was clinically and biochemically euthyroid. We conclude that (1) newborn thyroid scans are useful to determine the cause of hypothyroidism, (2) a secondary rise in the TSH level indicates permanent hypothyroidism, (3) only about one third of infants whose condition is diagnosed by newborn screening will qualify for a trial off therapy at 3 years of age, (4) only 1% to 2% of infants whose condition is diagnosed by newborn screening have transient hypothyroidism, and (5) a three-week period of hormone withdrawal after the age of 3 years seems adequate and safe to confirm permanent hypothyroidism.

(AJDC 1985;139:1028-1030)