Detecting Congenital Central Hypothyroidism by Newborn Screening: Difficulty in Distinguishing from Congenital Thyroxine-Binding Globulin Deficiency

Kara Connelly, Melinda J. Pierce, Cheryl Hanna, Stephen Lafranchi

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Background/Aims: Congenital central hypothyroidism (CH-C) can be detected on newborn screening (NBS) by programs using thyroxine (T4)-reflex thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test approach. CH-C must be distinguished from T4-binding globulin (TBG) deficiency. We sought to determine whether thyroid function tests reliably separate CH-C from TBG deficiency. Methods: We analyzed NBS and serum free and total T4, T3 resin uptake (T3RU) or TBG, and TSH for infants in the Northwest Regional NBS Program (NWRSP) between the years 2008 and 2015 with either CH-C or TBG deficiency. Results: We discovered a significant overlap in T3RU and TBG levels amongst 21 cases of CH-C and 250 cases of TBG deficiency. Mean serum TBG levels were lower in CH-C cases (20.3 µg/mL, range 14.2–33.3) than what is reported in healthy infants (28.6 µg/mL, range 19.1–44.6). Serum free T4 was lower in CH-C cases than TBG deficiency but did not always differentiate between the two conditions. Conclusion: CH-C benefits from detection on NBS but must be distinguished from TBG deficiency. The diagnosis of CH-C rests solely on subnormal serum free T4, but is supported by the demonstration of other pituitary hormone deficiencies. As an overlap exists, serum TBG (or T3RU) levels do not play a role in the diagnosis of CH-C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHormone Research in Paediatrics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Sep 14 2017



  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Newborn screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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