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J Epidemiol. 2013;23(2):85-94. Epub 2012 Dec 29.

Epidemiology and clinical characteristics of congenital hypothyroidism in an Asian population: a nationwide population-based study.

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School of Pharmacy, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.



The incidence of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) has been increasing in Western countries, and some populations, including Asians, have a higher incidence. Delayed diagnosis and early treatment influence the outcome of CH. We investigated the incidence and clinical characteristics of CH in Taiwan.


In this retrospective database study we identified cases of CH diagnosed during 1997-2008 in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). Patients who had a Serious Accidents and Diseases certificate were included in the incidence calculation. We focused on CH patients who were born during 1997-2003 and determined their age at diagnosis and CH-related clinical features. Mental retardation and physiological delays were evaluated with respect to age at diagnosis.


A total of 1482 cases were identified. Incidence during the 12-year period was 5.02 per 10 000 births. Among 1115 patients, the most common clinical features of CH were developmental delay (9.6%), constipation (11.6%), and delayed physiological development (9.1%). Congenital anomalies of the heart (7.7%), epilepsy (2.7%), and infantile cerebral palsy (3.2%) were also noted. Survival analysis showed that the risks of mental retardation (hazard ratio [HR], 3.180) and delayed physiological development (HR, 1.908) were greater when age at diagnosis was greater than 1 year.


CH incidence was higher in Taiwan than in Western countries. Early diagnosis may decrease the risk of mental and physiological delay.

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