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

When a baby has CH, the thyroid gland is not making enough hormones for the brain and body to grow and develop.

CH 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 hormone that is important for growth and development. This hormone is also important for energy and for the heart, liver, kidneys and skin.

The brain makes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). When a child’s TSH is too high, the brain 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.