To compare the psychological adjustment and behaviour of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) children and their parents with a control group.
A cross-sectional study was carried out with 84 CH subjects diagnosed by neonatal screening (range 2.7–18.6 years), subdivided into four age groups: group 1 (2–5 years); group 2 (6–10 years); group 3 (11–13 years); and group 4 (14–18 years) and was compared with an age-matched control group. Patients were assessed using two questionnaires: Child Behaviour Checklist for parents and Youth Self-Report for children over 11 years of age.
In groups 1, 3 and 4, total score (TS), internalising score (IS=problems within the self) and externalising score (ES=conflicts with other people) as reported by parents were not significantly different in CH patients and in controls. In group 2, parents of CH children showed values of TS (P<0.05), IS (P<0.05), ES (P<0.05) and scores on other scales significantly higher than controls. In self-reports of groups 3 and 4, the behavioural scales were not significantly different in CH patients and in controls.
Paediatricians should be informed about the increased risk of the development of behavioural problems at primary school age in CH patients. At this age special attention should be paid to parental worries and anxiety. However, it can be reassuring for the patients and parents to know that the problems may be related to CH, and that they may spontaneously disappear.