£5 can provide an information pack for newly diagnosed patients. £10 can enable btf to reply to two patient medical queries. £25 pays for the BTF telephone helpline for one month. £35 gives funding for a local group meeting with a medical speaker.

The thyroid gland is situated in the lower part of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It produces thyroid hormone. This is mainly thyroxine (T4) with a small (10%) amount of tri-iodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormone is essential for brain development in infancy and normal growth in childhood and adolescence

Thyroid gland development in a baby begins very early in pregnancy. The gland begins to form at the back of the tongue and moves to its normal position in the lower neck by eight weeks. In some babies the gland does not develop properly and/or may not move to the normal position. This form of CHT is called dysgenesis and a gland that is in the wrong position is called ectopic. The risk of having another child with this type of CHT is low.

In some cases, the thyroid gland develops and moves into the correct position but there is a problem with the thyroid hormone ‘production line’ and it has difficulty making thyroid hormone. This type of CHT is called dyshormonogenesis. It may occur if a baby has inherited a faulty CHT gene from mum and/or dad and there is a risk that the baby’s siblings will also be affected.

Untreated, CHT can result in impaired brain development. In the past, babies with hypothyroidism were often not diagnosed until they were several months old and started on treatment late. As a consequence, some had learning difficulties or mild clumsiness. We now know that if thyroid hormone treatment can be started before the baby is about two to three weeks old the likelihood of significant long-lasting problems are low.

Bianca Carini