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13 Feb 2015

Newborn Screening Improves Treatment for Congenital Hypothyroidism

According to medical experts, the early detection and treatment of congenital hypothyroidism along with proper awareness of the condition can improve the outcomes of the treatment. This can be achieved by New born screening tests that can detect the hormonal disorder in early stages. Treating the disease at an early stage can halt the disorder and prevent the development of symptoms.

What is congenital hypothyroidism?

This is a common endocrine disorder caused by thyroid hormone deficiency. If not treated, congenital hypothyroidism may lead to improper growth and permanent intellectual disability in children. According to a report published by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), this disorder affects 1 in 1,172 kids1, and can be effectively treated with a daily dose of thyroid hormone administered orally.

In most cases, the symptoms show no effect or mild effect which goes unnoticed by the parents and physicians. As small amount of thyroid hormone from the mother is transferred to the baby, the disorder is not detected upon birth but the symptoms manifest as the child grows. Thus, new born screening is the best way to diagnose this condition before the symptoms worsen in the infants.

New Born Screening

It is a simple and safe screening procedure to check for over 50 hidden medical conditions by testing the urine sample and blood of the infants. This screening test can help in the early detection and treatment of medical conditions so that the children can lead a normal life2.

In case of congenital hypothyroidism, the effects of early detection and treatment can lead to normal physical and neurological growth of the child. There is a huge difference between the results of treating a newborn and a 6 year old child affected with congenital hypothyroidism1. Newborn screening is simple, cheap and can be performed with a heel prick filter paper blood sample and urine sample.

Newborn Screening in India

The government recognized the importance of newborn screening and sanctioned Rs.99 lakh pilot project based on a study conducted by ICMR in Chennai. National Rural Health Mission will carry out this project, providing newborn screening for 80,000 infants in the first year3. In Bhubaneshwar, ICMR approved a proposal by Regional Medical Research Centre to screen newborns for sickle cell disease4. There are also private newborn screening tests available all over the country, recommended by pediatricians.

The below chart will show the number of hidden medical conditions detected among infants who took newborn screening test at BabyShield – A Newborn screening service offered by LifeCell International. Among newborn screening tests performed, congenital hypothyroidism is the third most common disorders detected among infants5.

Benefits of Newborn Screening:

  • It helps to detect the presence of any metabolic disorder in babies and prevent the onset of symptoms within few days.
  • It gives a sense of satisfaction to the parents that the baby is normal and safe from over 50 medical conditions.


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