Congenital hypothyroidism (hy-poh-thy-roi-diz-uhm) is a condition found in newborn babies. All babies are tested for this condition within the first week of life. When a newborn’s blood test shows values that are not normal, your doctor may suspect hypothyroidism.
When a baby has this condition, the thyroid gland is not making enough hormones for the brain and body to grow and develop.
Congenital hypothyroidism can be easily treated with a daily medicine. Children who do not take medicine to treat hypothyroidism will have trouble growing and may develop mental retardation. Most children take this medication for life.
The thyroid gland is found in the neck and is shaped like a butterfly. The thyroid gland makes many hormones that are important for growth and development. The hormones are called thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are also important for energy and for the heart, liver, kidneys and skin. The brain makes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH tells the thyroid gland how much T4 and T3 to make.
When a child's TSH is too high, the brain works hard to tell the thyroid to make more T4 and T3. Sometimes the thyroid gland doesn't make enough hormone no matter how hard the brain works. This happens when a person has hypothyroidism.