Lower neonatal screening thyroxine concentrations in down syndrome newborns

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr;88(4):1512-5. doi: 10.1210/jc.2002-021303.


There is an unexplained higher incidence of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) detected by T(4)-based neonatal screening programs and a very high prevalence of (mild) plasma TSH elevation in young children with Down syndrome (DS). To determine whether newborns with DS have decreased blood T(4) concentrations at the time of the neonatal screening, we conducted an observational study in a large and representative cohort of Dutch children with DS born in 1996 and 1997. CH screening results (T(4), TSH, and T(4)-binding globulin concentrations) were analyzed in comparison with clinical information obtained by interviewing the parents and data from the general newborn population and a large control group. The mean T(4) concentration of the studied children with DS (n = 284) was significantly decreased. The individual T(4) concentrations were normally (Gaussian) distributed but shifted to lower concentrations. This could not be explained by prematurity, nonthyroidal illness, or iodine exposure. Mean TSH and T(4)-binding globulin concentrations were significantly increased and normal, respectively. The decreased T(4) concentration, left-shifted normal distribution, and mildly elevated TSH concentrations point to a mild hypothyroid state in newborns with DS and support the existence of a DS-specific thyroid (regulation) disorder. The question remains whether this contributes to the brain maldevelopment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism
  • Down Syndrome / blood*
  • Down Syndrome / complications
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis
  • Hypothyroidism / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Thyroglobulin / blood
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood*


  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Thyroxine