Positive impact of long-term antithyroid drug treatment on the outcome of children with Graves' disease: national long-term cohort study

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jan;97(1):110-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1944. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Context: Drug-based therapy is usually the initial treatment for Graves' disease (GD) hyperthyroidism in children, but there is some debate about treatment duration.

Objective: Our objective was to assess the effect of long-term carbimazole therapy on GD remission in children and its determinants.

Design and setting: This was an observational prospective multicenter follow-up cohort study.

Participants: Participants included 154 children newly diagnosed with GD between 1997 and 2002. The intention was to treat patients with three consecutive courses of carbimazole, each lasting 2 yr. Definitive treatment was performed in cases of poor compliance with antithyroid drug (ATD) treatment, thyrotoxicosis relapse, or major adverse effects of ATD treatment.

Main outcome measure: The main outcome measure was remission for at least 18 months after the completion of each course of ATD treatment.

Results: The median duration of follow-up was 10.4 (9.0-12.1) yr. Overall estimated remission rates (95% confidence interval) 18 months after the withdrawal of ATD treatment increased with time and were 20 (13-26), 37 (29-45), 45 (35-54), and 49 (40-57)% after 4, 6, 8, and 10 yr follow-up, respectively. A multivariate competing risk model revealed an independent positive effect of less severe forms of hyperthyroidism at diagnosis [subhazard ratio of 1 for patients with free T(4) <35 pmol/liter vs. 0.4 (0.20-0.80) for free T(4) ≥ 35 pmol/liter; P = 0.01] and of the presence of other autoimmune conditions [subhazard ratio of 2.23 (1.19-4.18); P = 0.01] on remission rate after medical treatment.

Conclusion: About half the patients achieved remission after carbimazole discontinuation, and there seems to be a plateau in the incidence of remission achieved after 8-10 yr ATD therapy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms
  • Antithyroid Agents / adverse effects
  • Antithyroid Agents / pharmacology
  • Antithyroid Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • France
  • Graves Disease / diagnosis*
  • Graves Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Remission Induction
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antithyroid Agents