Although newborn screening (NBS) for congenital hypothyroidism (CH) in Japan started more than 40 years ago, the prevalence of CH remains unclear. Prevalence estimations among NBS-positive CH individuals include those with transient hypothyroidism and transient hyperthyrotropinemia, and re-evaluation with increasing age is necessary to clarify the actual incidence. Thus, we re-evaluated the incidence of permanent CH. Of the 106,114 patients who underwent NBS in the Niigata Prefecture, Japan, between April 2002 and March 2006, 116 were examined further due to high thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (>8 mIU/L) and were included in the study. We retrospectively evaluated their levothyroxine sodium (LT4) replacement therapy status from the first visit to 15 years of age. Of the 116 NBS-positive patients, 105 (91%) were initially examined in our department. Of these, 72 (69%) started LT4 replacement therapy on the first visit. Subsequently, 27 patients continued LT4 replacement until 15 years of age after multiple re-evaluations. The prevalence of permanent CH in the Niigata Prefecture during this period was 1 in 2500-3500 children. Ultimately, 62.5% of patients on LT4 replacement discontinued treatment by 15 years of age. This is the first study to clarify the true prevalence of permanent CH in Japan.
Keywords: Japan; congenital hypothyroidism; newborn screening; prevalence; re-evaluations.