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D T Ward, M Z Mughal, M Ranieri, M M Dvorak-Ewell, G Valenti, and D Riccardi

Objective

Loss-of-function calcium-sensing receptor (CAR) mutations cause elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion and hypercalcaemia. Although full Car deletion is possible in mice, most human CAR mutations result from a single amino acid substitution that maintains partial function. However, here, we report a case of neonatal severe hyperparathyroidism (NSHPT) in which the truncated CaR lacks any transmembrane domain (CaRR392X), in effect a full CAR ‘knockout’.

Case report

The infant (daughter of distant cousins) presented with hypercalcaemia (5.5–6 mmol/l corrected calcium (2.15–2.65)) and elevated PTH concentrations (650–950 pmol/l (12–81)) together with skeletal demineralisation. NSHPT was confirmed by CAR gene sequencing (homozygous c.1174C-to-T mutation) requiring total parathyroidectomy during which only two glands were located and removed, resulting in normalisation of her serum PTH/calcium levels.

Design and methods

The R392X stop codon was inserted into human CAR and the resulting mutant (CaRR392X) expressed transiently in HEK-293 cells.

Results

CaRR392X expressed as a 54 kDa dimeric glycoprotein that was undetectable in conditioned medium or in the patient's urine. The membrane localisation observed for wild-type CaR in parathyroid gland and transfected HEK-293 cells was absent from the proband's parathyroid gland and from CaRR392X-transfected cells. Expression of the mutant was localised to endoplasmic reticulum consistent with its lack of functional activity.

Conclusions

Intriguingly, the patient remained normocalcaemic throughout childhood (2.5 mM corrected calcium, 11 pg/ml PTH (10–71), age 8 years) but exhibited mild asymptomatic hypocalcaemia at age 10 years, now treated with 1-hydroxycholecalciferol and Ca2 + supplementation. Despite representing a virtual CAR knockout, the patient displays no obvious pathologies beyond her calcium homeostatic dysfunction.

Free access

L Kornreich, G Horev, M Schwarz, B Karmazyn, and Z Laron

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether lifelong secretion of high levels of GH, characteristic of Laron syndrome, leads to an increase in the size of the pituitary gland. METHODS: Eleven patients (six females, five males) with Laron syndrome underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the pituitary region with a system operating at 0.5 T. There were nine adults aged 36-68 Years and two children, a 4-Year-old boy and a 9-Year-old girl. The latter patient had been treated with IGF-I (150-180 mg/kg per day) since the age of 3 Years; all the other patients were untreated. The height of the adenohypophysis was measured on the sagittal images and compared with reference values for age and sex. RESULTS: The height of the adenohypophysis was within the normal range for age and gender in all patients, except for one male, who had a small gland. No congenital anomalies of the pituitary-hypothalamic region were detected. CONCLUSION: Despite the lifelong high levels of GH, no pituitary hypertrophy was detected. The anatomy of the pituitary-hypothalamic region in Laron syndrome is normal.

Free access

N Benhadi, W M Wiersinga, J B Reitsma, T G M Vrijkotte, and G J Bonsel

Background

To examine the relationship between maternal TSH and free thyroxine (FT4) concentrations in early pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage, fetal or neonatal death.

Method

Cohort study of 2497 Dutch women. TSH, FT4, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies concentrations were determined at first booking. Child loss was operationalized as miscarriage, fetal or neonatal death. Women with overt thyroid dysfunction were excluded.

Results

Twenty-seven cases of child loss were observed. The mean TSH and FT4 level in the women with child loss was 1.48 mU/l and 9.82 pmol/l compared with 1.11 mU/l and 9.58 pmol/l in women without child loss. The incidence of child loss increased by 60% (OR=1.60 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04–2.47)) for every doubling in TSH concentration. This association remained after adjustment for smoking, age, parity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, previous preterm deliveries, and previous preterm stillbirth/miscarriage (adjusted odds ratio=1.80 (95% CI: 1.07–3.03)). This was not true for FT4 concentrations (OR=1.41 (95% CI: 0.21–9.40); P=0.724).

Conclusion

In a cohort of pregnant women without overt thyroid dysfunction, the risk of child loss increased with higher levels of maternal TSH. Maternal FT4 concentrations and child loss were not associated.

Free access

S Bargagna, D Dinetti, A Pinchera, M Marcheschi, L Montanelli, S Presciuttini, and L Chiovato

OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of school attainments in children with congenital hypothyroidism (CH) detected by neonatal screening and treated early in life. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Text comprehension, mathematics, reading, writing and verbal and spatial memory, as indices of school learning, were evaluated in nineteen 5- to 10-year-old children with CH attending nursery or elementary school. l-Thyroxine substitution (starting dose 8-10 microg/kg body weight per day) was initiated at a mean age of 30+/-10 days of life. The control group included 298 unaffected children matched with the CH children for age and school grade. Thirty per cent of controls were classmates of CH children. Intelligence quotients (IQ), language performances and motor development were evaluated in CH children at age 5 years, and were related to their school attainments. School performances of CH children were also compared with their neonatal serum thyroxine (T4) concentration, and with the social-cultural level of the family. RESULTS: Four out of 19 (21%) children with CH, 3 in the nursery and 1 in the elementary school, displayed a generalized learning disorder. Symbol copy, geometric copy, phrase repetition, dictation writing and spontaneous writing were particularly defective in nursery school CH children, while orthographic error recognition was defective in elementary school CH children. School learning disorders in CH children were significantly correlated with a borderline-low IQ, poor language performances and a low social-cultural level of the family, but not with motor skills or neonatal T4 concentration. CONCLUSION: School attainments of early treated CH children were within the normal range in most affected cases. However, about 20% of CH children, most of them attending nursery school, showed a generalized learning disorder. Low IQ scores and poor language performances at age 5 years were associated with defective learning, mainly in CH children living in a poor social-cultural environment. In this subset of CH children, prompt initiation of speech and psychomotor rehabilitation therapy is recommended in order to prevent subsequent school learning disorders.

Free access

S A van Gool, G A Kamp, R J Odink, S M P F de Muinck Keizer-Schrama, H A Delemarre-van de Waal, W Oostdijk, and J M Wit

Objective

To assess the long-term effect of prepubertal high-dose GH treatment on growth in children with idiopathic short stature (ISS).

Design and methods

Forty children with no signs of puberty, age at start 4–8 years (girls) or 4–10 years (boys), height SDS <−2.0 SDS, and birth length >−2.0 SDS, were randomly allocated to receive GH at a dose of 2 mg/m2 per day (equivalent to 75 μg/kg per day at start and 64 μg/kg per day at stop) until the onset of puberty for at least 2 years (preceded by two 3-month periods of treatment with low or intermediate doses of GH separated by two washout periods of 3 months) or no treatment. In 28 cases, adult height (AH) was assessed at a mean (s.d.) age of 20.4 (2.3) years.

Results

GH-treated children (mean treatment period on high-dose GH 2.3 years (range 1.2–5.0 years)) showed an increased mean height SDS at discontinuation of the treatment compared with the controls (−1.3 (0.8) SDS versus −2.6 (0.8) SDS respectively). However, bone maturation was significantly accelerated in the GH-treated group compared with the controls (1.6 (0.4) versus 1.0 (0.2) years per year, respectively), and pubertal onset tended to advance. After an untreated interval of 3–12 years, AH was −2.1 (0.7) and −1.9 (0.6) in the GH-treated and control groups respectively. Age was a positive predictor of adult height gain.

Conclusion

High-dose GH treatment restricted to the prepubertal period in young ISS children augments height gain during treatment, but accelerates bone maturation, resulting in a similar adult height compared with the untreated controls.

Free access

D Zenaty, Y Aigrain, M Peuchmaur, P Philippe-Chomette, C Baumann, F Cornelis, J P Hugot, D Chevenne, V Barbu, P J Guillausseau, M Schlumberger, J C Carel, J P Travagli, and J Léger

Context

Early prophylactic thyroidectomy in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type 2 offers the best chance for a normal life expectancy.

Objective

To analyze the results of thyroidectomy performed during the first year of life in six patients with MEN 2A (codon 634) or MEN 2B (codon 918) syndrome.

Design and setting

A university hospital-based prospective study from 2001 to 2008.

Subjects and methods

Six family members affected either by MEN 2A (n=3) or MEN 2B (n=3) syndrome were identified through neonatal genetic screening.

Results

Total thyroidectomy was performed at a median age of 0.8 year in the six patients, with central lymph node dissection in five. Bilateral millimetric medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) was found in all patients, with a unilateral lymph node micrometastasis in two of the three MEN 2B patients. Before thyroidectomy, MEN 2B patients had much higher basal serum calcitonin levels than those with MEN 2A and controls. After thyroidectomy, with a median follow-up of 3.3 years, the six patients had no evidence of persistent MTC.

Conclusion

Bilateral millimetric MTC may be present during the first year of life in these patients, with lymph node metastases also occurring in MEN 2B patients. These results support a total thyroidectomy at the age of about one year in MEN 2A (codon 634) children with an abnormal serum calcitonin level, and a total thyroidectomy with central neck dissection within the first weeks of life in MEN 2B patients.

Free access

J J Haro-Mora, E García-Escobar, N Porras, D Alcázar, J Gaztambide, A Ruíz-Órpez, S García-Serrano, E Rubio-Martín, E García-Fuentes, J P López-Siguero, F Soriguer, and G Rojo-Martínez

Objective

Changes in eating habits may be influential in the ever-increasing rate of childhood obesity. Our aim was to determine whether those children who consume olive oil have a lower risk of weight gain compared with children who consume other oils.

Design and methods

The study included 18 girls and 74 boys, all aged 13–166 months. A survey was completed for each subject about eating habits and physical activity. A sample of subcutaneous adipose tissue was also obtained for cellular study. Data were recorded on the mean size of the adipocytes, the number of preadipocytes, and the concentration of particular fatty acids. The weight and height of the children were measured 13 months later.

Results

The likelihood that after 1 year the children would have increased their body mass index (BMI) Z-score above the initial score was less in the children who consumed only olive oil (odds ratio (OR)=0.22; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08–0.63; P=0.005). These results remained after adjusting for age, physical activity and BMI (OR=0.19; 95% CI: 0.06–0.61; P=0.005) and after adjusting for age, physical activity and adipocyte volume (OR=0.15; 95% CI: 0.04–0.52; P=0.003).

Conclusions

Diets with mono unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)-rich olive oil could reduce the risk of obesity in childhood.

Free access

M Salerno, R Militerni, S Di Maio, C Bravaccio, N Gasparini, and A Tenore

BACKGROUND: The intellectual outcome in children with congenital hypothyroidism detected by neonatal screening is generally good; however, subtle neurological dysfunctions, subnormal IQ, or both, have been reported. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the intellectual outcome in 12-year-old patients with congenital hypothyroidism, detected by neonatal screening, in an attempt to identify factors that may affect intellectual development. METHODS: The intelligence quotient (IQ) of 40 children with congenital hypothyroidism was evaluated at 12 years of age, using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children -- Revised, and compared with the IQ of 40 healthy siblings (control group). RESULTS: The mean IQ score (88.4+/-13.1) was not significantly different from that of the control group (93.4+/-10.7). Thirteen patients showed subnormal IQ score (72.4+/-4.9) compared with their siblings (86.7+/-9.6; P<0.0001) and with the other patients (96.1+/-9.6; P<0.0001). The low IQ score was associated with lower serum concentrations of thyroxine at diagnosis, poor treatment compliance during follow-up and lower familial IQ. Interviews with parents of children with congenital hypothyroidism revealed that a refusal to acknowledge the disease was linked to poor attention to the child's emotional life and to poor treatment compliance in some cases (11%). CONCLUSION: Even though the mean IQ score in patients with congenital hypothyroidism falls within normal for the control population, low IQ scores may be present in patients with severe hypothyroidism, inadequate compliance to replacement therapy during follow-up and poor parental pedagogic attitude.

Free access

Pauliina Utriainen, Raimo Voutilainen, and Jarmo Jääskeläinen

Objectives

Premature adrenarche (PA), the early rise in adrenal androgen (AA) production, can manifest with different clinical signs of androgen effect. Premature pubarche defined as appearance of pubic hair before the age of 8/9 years in girls/boys, is the most prominent clinical sign of PA and often erroneously described as a synonym of PA. Our aim was to determine the association of circulating AA concentrations with different prepubertal signs of androgen action (SAA). Secondly, we tested whether adrenomedullary function is altered in children with SAA, as it is in congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) also causing adrenal hyperandrogenism.

Design and methods

We examined 73 Finnish prepubertal children with any hyperandrogenic sign(s) having appeared before the age of 8/9 years (girls/boys) (35 with pubic and/or axillary hair=PAH; 38 without=nonPAH), and 98 age- and sex-matched controls. Circulating adrenal steroid and catecholamine concentrations were measured and correlated with clinical parameters.

Results

None of the children with SAA had CAH or virilizing tumor. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and androstenedione concentrations overlapped between the SAA and control children, and they were lower in the nonPAH than PAH group (P<0.01). SAA children had similar plasma epinephrine but higher norepinephrine (NE) concentrations than their controls (mean (95% confidence interval) 1.61 (1.44, 1.77) versus 1.39 (1.30, 1.49) nmol/l, P=0.03).

Conclusions

PA forms a continuum with more pronounced increase in circulating androgens in children with PAH than in those without. Some children show SAA with fairly low androgen concentrations. The clinical significance of elevated NE concentrations associated with SAA needs to be confirmed in further studies.

Free access

Nicoletta Bisacchi, Milva Orquidea Bal, Laura Nardi, Ilaria Bettocchi, Graziana D'Addabbo, Veronica Conti, Sara Monti, Franco D'Alberton, Alessandro Cicognani, and Alessandra Cassio

Objective

To compare the psychological adjustment and behaviour of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) children and their parents with a control group.

Study design

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.