Newborn thyroid screenings are heralded as a lifesaver for about 12,000 babies in the United States each year. And it is, but no one wants to talk about the kids whose conditions are missed.
An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found testing varies significantly between states, some of which don’t follow scientific standards or common sense.
This story is heartbreaking. Once again, doctors follow outdated guidelines when treating thyroid problems. Not only do adults have a difficult time getting the treatment they need and deserve, as you will learn in the following story, newborns can also go untreated with a life-threating condition. And the results are devastating.
The thyroid gland is essential to a child’s growth, development and metabolism. Tumors can form on children’s thyroids and affect thyroid function.
Genetic syndromes such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 increase the risk of thyroid cancer in children. A history of radiation therapy to the head and neck also increases risk of childhood thyroid cancer.
Other thyroid disorders affecting children include Graves’ disease, which is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism, and congenital hypothyroidism, in which a newborn has inadequate thyroid tissue or an enzyme defect at birth. The disorder can cause delayed physical growth and cretinism.
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