Background: Thyroid hormone (TH) is essential for the developing brain, and because the fetal thyroid develops relatively late in gestation, the maternal TH supply is critical for fetal brain development. However, if the mother has hypothyroidism during pregnancy, fetal brain and neuropsychological development may be compromised. Rodents experiencing maternal TH insufficiency show abnormal corpus callosum (CC) morphology, but it is not known if children born to women treated for hypothyroidism (HYPO) show similar effects. The purpose of the current study was to investigate HYPO for CC morphology and morphometry and to determine whether any specific CC abnormalities were associated aspects of maternal hypothyroidism and were correlated with reduced neuropsychological functioning in the children.
Methods: ANALYZE software was used to trace CCs in archived magnetic resonance imaging scans from 22 HYPO and 22 matched controls. Areas of two sub-regions and six segments and different shape metrics (angles, lengths, ratios) were determined. CC parameters were correlated with maternal thyrotropin (TSH) values and number of hypothyroid trimesters as well as the child's neuropsychological test performance.
Results: HYPO showed a smaller anterior CC and genu and larger posterior CC and splenium areas than controls as well as shape abnormalities in genu and splenium. Results were correlated with the duration of maternal hypothyroidism. Executive function skills were positively associated with genu size in HYPO, while verbal comprehension skills were negatively associated with splenium and overall posterior CC sizes.
Conclusions: Maternal hypothyroidism contributes to CC abnormalities in the offspring, and effects differ for anterior versus posterior CC regions.