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Thyroid. 2000 Aug;10(8):693-5.

Atypical hypothyroidism and the very low birthweight infant.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.


Results of thyroid screening tests were examined retrospectively on 311,282 infants born in Massachusetts from January 1, 1993 to December 31, 1996. During this period, 118 infants were found to have typical hypothyroidism, characterized by a low thyroxine (T4) and an elevated thyrotropin (TSH) on the initial newborn-screening specimen. Of these, 98 were normal birthweight (NBW, > or = 2,500 g), 9 were low birthweight (LBW, 1,501-2,499 g), and 11 were very low birthweight (VLBW, < or = 1,500 g). Atypical hypothyroidism as defined here is characterized by a low T4 and normal TSH concentration on the initial screening specimen, followed by and elevated TSH level on a repeat blood specimen. This phenomenon occurred in 18 infants, of whom 4 were NBW, 4 were LBW, and 10 were VLBW. The incidence of combined typical and atypical hypothyroidism was: NBW, 1:3051; LBW, 1:1589; VLBW, 1:153, with the highest incidence of atypical hypothyroidism in the VLBW category (48% of cases in this weight category, 56% of all cases of atypical hypothyroidism). In addition, screening programs using a primary TSH screen will miss infants with atypical hypothyroidism. In view of these results, it is suggested that T4 measurements be obtained routinely in all LBW and VLBW infants, with additional routine repeat blood specimens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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