In an alarming observation, experts have found that thyroid dysfunction and hormone imbalance are being reported in more and more newborn babies. This puts children at risk of other diseases and being sick later in life.
A new study by the neonatology department of the Post Graduate Institute of Child Health (PGICH), Noida, assessed the health of 200 babies who were born either preterm or carried to full term. The children chosen for the study were very sick and admitted to NICU. Half of the children were born premature and the rest of the babies were born extremely ill despite being carried to full term.
Researchers found about 10% of the infants had a deficiency of thyroid hormone. The same imbalance negatively influenced the ultimate outcome of the diseases for which the babies were treated. The hormone imbalance was observed to increase the severity of the illness.
The study also found if the babies are not put on hormone replacement therapy immediately, congenital deficiency of thyroid hormone puts the infants at the risk of developing mental retardation.
Dr Ruchi Rai, head of PGICH's neonatology department, said all the babies were admitted to the NICU within a week after their birth. A thyroid screening test was administered on the third or fourth day as part of the routine. "We found that about 10% had thyroid deficiency."
"They were at risk of developing more severe illnesses. They also had a higher chance of being put on ventilator support or developing mental retardation," she added.
The expert also emphasised the importance of doing a blood test on the third or fourth day after birth. This will pick up thyroid deficiency due to an illness contracted after birth. However, a repeat test in the third week of life is also necessary for preterm and sick babies.
The study is published in the 'Archives of Endocrinology and Metabolism'.