Millennium Post

Govt mulls screening of congenital hypothyroidism among newborns

In an attempt to control mental disorders among newborn kids, the government is mulling to introduce congenital hypothyroidism screening in the national health programmes. The word ‘congenital’ refers to a condition that occurs at/before birth and ‘hypothyroidism’ in an infant means that baby is not making enough thyroid hormone to mentally and physically develop normally.

The deficiency of thyroid hormones among newborns is emerging as very critical issue as it leads to mental and physical abnormality in newborns, said Rajesh Khadgawat, who is additional professor of Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

“We have submitted our report to Union Health Ministry, which is considering including screening of congenital hypothyroidism in its national screening as well as awareness programme,” Khadgawat added.

Though, the present scenario of congenital hypothyroidism affecting new born babies across the globe is 1 in 3,800, while the situation in the country is much worse with a figure of 1 in 2,640 kids getting affected to congenital hypothyroidism syndrome.

Stressing on the current situation, Khadgawat said, “Congenital hypothyroidism is one of the few conditions which can be identified through newborn screening, but if left undetected and untreated can leave permanent damages. The first few years of a child’s life are extremely crucial for mental and physical development. If adequate amount of the thyroid hormone is not available, the human brain cannot develop normally.”

“A child who is diagnosed and treated at a later stage will catch up on physical growth, but will lack appropriate mental development. The early identification, diagnosis and treatment are essential, said Anju Virmani, a senior consultant of diabetologist and endocrinologist at AIIMS.

Virmani further said, “Congenital hypothyroidism is one of the most detrimental causes of mental retardation. Studies have demonstrated that if the child is treated adequately and procedures are completed by three months, the child will attain normal mental development.”
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