Objective: To determine the proportion of the various types of thyroid disorders among newborns detected by the neonatal TSH screening programme, with a normally located thyroid gland. Patients and methods Of the 882 575 infants screened in our centre between 1981 and 2002, 85 infants with a normally located gland had persistent elevation of serum TSH values (an incidence of 1/10 383). Six of these 85 patients were lost to follow-up and were therefore excluded from the study. During follow-up, patients were classified as having permanent or transient hypothyroidism.
Results: Among the 79 patients included in the study, transient (n = 30, 38% of cases) and permanent (n = 49, 62% of cases) congenital hypothyroidism (CH) was demonstrated during the follow-up at the age of 0.7 +/- 0.6 years and 2.6 +/- 1.8 years (P < 0.0001), respectively. The proportion of premature births was significantly higher in the group with transient CH (57%) than in the group with permanent CH (2%) (P < 0.0001). A history of iatrogenic iodine overload was identified during the neonatal period in 69% of transient cases. Among permanent CH cases (n = 49), patients were classified as having a goitre (n = 27, 55% of cases), a normal sized and shaped thyroid gland (n = 14, 29% of cases) or a hypoplastic gland (n = 8, 16% of cases). The latter patients demonstrated global thyroid hypoplasia (n = 3), a right hemithyroid (n = 2), hypoplasia of the left lobe (n = 2), or asymmetry in the location of the two lobes (n = 1). Patients with a normal sized and shaped thyroid gland showed a significantly less severe form of hypothyroidism than those with a goitre or a hypoplastic thyroid gland (P < 0.0002). Among permanent CH cases, those with a goitre (n = 27) had an iodine organification defect (n = 10), Pendred syndrome (n = 1), a defect of thyroglobulin synthesis (n = 8), or a defect of sodium iodine symporter (n = 1), and in seven patients no aetiology could be determined. Among permanent cases with a normal sized and shaped thyroid gland (n = 14), a specific aetiology was found in only one patient (pseudohypoparathyroidism) and two patients had Down's syndrome. Among those with a globally hypoplastic gland, a TSH receptor gene mutation was found in two patients.
Conclusions: A precise description of the phenotype can enhance our understanding of various forms of neonatal hypothyroidism as well as their prevalence and management. It also helps to identify cases of congenital hypothyroidism of unknown aetiology, which will need to be investigated in collaboration with molecular biologists.