Antibodies against the so called 'second colloid antigen' (CA2 antibodies) occurred in 51% of the mothers of hypothyroid children detected by screening for neonatal congenital hypothyroidism in Quebec (N = 49) and in The Netherlands (N = 26). In The Netherlands where corresponding neonatal serum was available, 31% (8 of 26) of the infants with congenital hypothyroidism were positive for antibodies against the second colloid antigen. When during follow-up, 3 to 5 years after diagnosis, the mothers and their children were investigated, 46% (7 of 15) of the mothers were positive for antibodies against the second colloid antigen, whereas 29% (4 of 14) of the hypothyroid children were also positive. Various control groups did not show more than a 12% positivity. This presence of thyroid-reactive antibodies in a proportion of the hypothyroid children 3 to 5 years after diagnosis is not compatible with a mere transplacental passage; it indicates that the antibodies must be produced by the mothers and by the children themselves. We conclude that a thyroid autoimmune response occurs in a considerable part of infants with congenital hypothyroidism and their mothers and that this immune response seems to persist in both of them for years.
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