Background: Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is one of the most common preventable causes of mental retardation. One important challenge in understanding the epidemiology of CH is that some newborns will have transient CH, a temporary depression of thyroid hormone concentrations that can last from several days to several months. Studies from other countries have reported that 10 to 15% of children treated for CH ultimately prove not to need treatment past 3 years of age to maintain normal hormone concentrations, and thus have transient hypothyroidism. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of permanent and transient congenital hypothyroidism in Fayoum, Egypt.
Methods: Cases detected by Fayoum neonatal screening program (NSP) between January 2003 and December 2011, and followed up at health insurance center were included. Permanent or transient CH was determined using results of thyroid function tests.
Results: Of the 248 patients diagnosed primarily with CH by NSP; 204 (82.3%) patients were diagnosed to have permanent CH (prevalence 1/3587 live birth), and 44 (17.7%) patients were diagnosed to have transient CH (prevalence 1/16667 live birth). Initial TSH levels were higher in permanent CH cases than transient cases (p<0.004). Female to male ratio was 0.8 and 0.7 in permanent and transient CH respectively. 161 (65%) patients had thyroid dysgenesis (107 ectopic thyroid gland, 28 athyreosis and 26 thyroid hypoplasia). 87 (35%) patients had intact gland in thyroid scan and were considered to have dyshormonogenesis. Of these 87 patients 44 proved to have transient CH and 43 had permanent CH.
Conclusion: The preliminary data from our study revealed that the incidences of CH as well as the permanent form were similar to worldwide reports. Although the high incidence of transient CH in our study could be explained by iodine deficiency further studies are needed to confirm the etiology and plan the treatment strategies.