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J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol. 2017 Dec 15;9(4):337-343. doi: 10.4274/jcrpe.3661. Epub 2017 Aug 2.

Serum Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Levels and Body Mass Index Percentiles in Children with Primary Hypothyroidism on Levothyroxine Replacement.

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RUSH University Graduate College, Masters in Clinical Research Program, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
RUSH University Graduate College, Department of Preventive Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
RUSH University Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



To determine the association, if any, between thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels and body mass index (BMI) percentiles in children with primary hypothyroidism who are chemically euthyroid and on treatment with levothyroxine.


This retrospective cross-sectional study consisted of a review of medical records from RUSH Medical Center and Stroger Hospital, Chicago, USA of children with primary hypothyroidism who were seen in the clinic from 2008 to 2014 and who were chemically euthyroid and on treatment with levothyroxine for at least 6 months. The patients were divided into two groups based on their TSH levels (0.34-<2.5 mIU/L and ≥2.5-5.6 mIU/L). The data were analyzed by Spearman rank correlation, linear regression, cross tabulation and chi-square, Mann-Whitney U test, and Kruskal-Wallis test.


One hundred and forty-six children were included, of which 26% were obese (BMI ≥95%), 21.9% overweight (BMI ≥85-<95%), and 52.1% of a healthy weight (BMI ≥5-<85%). There was a significant positive correlation between TSH and BMI percentiles (r=0.274, p=0.001) and a significant negative correlation between TSH and serum free T4 (r=-0.259, p=0.002). In the lower TSH group, 68.4% of the children had a healthy weight, while the percentage of obese children was 60.5% in the upper TSH group (p=0.012).


In children diagnosed with primary hypothyroidism who are chemically euthyroid on treatment with levothyroxine, there is a positive association between higher TSH levels and higher BMI percentiles. However, it is difficult to establish if the higher TSH levels are a direct cause or a consequence of the obesity. Further studies are needed to establish causation beyond significant association.


Thyroid-stimulating hormone; body mass index euthyroid.; children; hypothyroidism; obesity; pediatric

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