The association between neonatal thyroxine and craniosynostosis, Texas, 2004-2007

Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2012 Dec;94(12):1004-9. doi: 10.1002/bdra.23077. Epub 2012 Oct 26.


Background: Craniosynostosis (CS), a structural anomaly characterized by premature fusion of cranial sutures, occurs in 1 in 2000 live births. Associations of CS with the thyroid have been reported. Neonatal thyroid hormone (T4) is evaluated nationally at birth by the Newborn Screening Program (NBS). This study evaluated the relationship between NBS T4 levels and craniosynostosis.

Methods: Live-born singleton babies born in 2004 through 2007 were identified through the Texas Birth Defects Registry (499 cases) and Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics (3570 controls) and successfully linked to analyte data available in the Texas NBS Database. Cases were classified based on the absence of other major defects (isolated cases, n = 382) and suture(s) involved. Mean T4 levels were compared between controls and cases (overall and stratified by classification). T4 levels were stratified by quintiles to evaluate differences between cases and controls within quintiles. The diagnostic utility of NBS T4 was evaluated using receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves.

Results: Mean T4 levels were lower in isolated cases (16.89 μg/dl) than in controls (17.77 μg/dl; p = 0.0004). This trend persisted for sagittal (16.69 μg/dl; p = 0.002) and metopic (16.83 μg/dl; p = 0.042) CS. When stratified by quintiles, 54% of isolated lambdoid CS were in the first quintile compared to controls (p = 0.012). ROC area under the curve (AUC) was approximately 0.55 for all classifications except lambdoid (AUC = 0.73).

Conclusion: NBS T4 levels were slightly lower among cases with nearly half of all lambdoid CS having T4 levels in the lowest quintile. However, overall NBS T4 levels are not suitable for potential screening or diagnostic application.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Craniosynostoses / diagnosis
  • Craniosynostoses / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening
  • ROC Curve
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Thyroxine / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Thyroxine