Health Topics

Congenital Hypothyroidism

Congenital hypothyroidism (hy-poh-thy-roi-diz-uhm) is a condition found in newborns. Congenital means that they are born with this condition. All babies are tested for this condition within the first week of life.  

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 easily be treated with a daily medicine.  Children who do not take medicine to treat hypothyroidism will have trouble with growing and developing. 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 thyroid hormones that are important for growth and development.  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). There is a gland in the brain called the pituitary gland that talks to the thyroid gland.  When a child’s TSH is too high, the pituitary gland works hard to tell the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone.  The thyroid gland cannot respond to the signal from the brain so babies with congenital hypothyroidism who are not on medicine will have a high TSH.

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Last Updated: 09/2013