Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jun;96(6):E934-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-2814. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Fetal thyroid hormone level at birth is associated with fetal growth.

Author information

  • 1Peninsula National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Facility, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter EX2 5DW, United Kingdom.



Thyroid function is known to play an important role in fetal neurological development, but its role in regulating fetal growth is not well established. Overt maternal and fetal thyroid disorders are associated with reduced birth weight. We hypothesized that, even in the absence of overt thyroid dysfunction, maternal and fetal thyroid function influence fetal growth.


In normal, healthy pregnancies, we aimed to assess whether fetal thyroid hormone at birth (as measured in cord blood) is associated with fetal growth. We also aimed to study whether fetal thyroid hormone at birth is associated with maternal thyroid hormone in the third trimester.


In 616 healthy mother-child pairs, TSH, free T(4) (FT4), and free T(3) (FT3) were measured in mothers at 28 wk gestation and in umbilical cord blood at birth. Birth weight, length, head circumference, and tricep and bicep skinfold thicknesses were measured on the babies.


Cord FT4 was associated with birth weight (r = 0.25; P < 0.001), length (r = 0.17; P < 0.001), and sum of skinfolds (r = 0.19; P < 0.001). There were no associations between birth measurements and either cord TSH or cord FT3. Maternal FT4 and cord FT4 were correlated (r = 0.14; P = 0.0004), and there were weaker negative associations between maternal TSH and cord FT4 (r = -0.08; P = 0.04) and FT3 (r = -0.10; P = 0.01).


Associations between cord FT4 and birth size suggest that fetal thyroid function may be important in regulating fetal growth, both of skeletal size and fat. The correlation between third-trimester maternal FT4 and cord FT4 supports the belief that maternal T(4) crosses the placenta even in late gestation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk