Could my child be born without a thyroid gland?

Harvey K. Chiu, MD
Some children are born without a thyroid gland, or with a thyroid gland that does not function well. In the United States all babies are screened at birth for low thyroid function. Different states have different approaches, but all states offer some means of a screen. Fortunately this is a very treatable condition, and if recognized early, children do very well with intervention and treatment.

In rare cases, children can be born without a thyroid gland or with a thyroid gland that is extremely underdeveloped. Genetics or the mother's intake of radioactive iodine medication may play a role in some of these cases. In other cases, the cause is unknown. Lack of a well-developed thyroid gland at birth leads to congenital hypothyroidism. If your infant is diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism, he or she will need to take thyroid hormone medication for the duration of life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.