OBJECTIVE: To evaluate longitudinal growth, pubertal development and final height in patients with congenital hypothyroidism (CH) detected by a neonatal screening programme, and to identify factors potentially affecting growth outcome. PATIENTS: Fifty-five patients (41 females) detected by neonatal screening and followed longitudinally from the time of diagnosis and treatment (25+/-5 days) up to the age of 17+/-0.5 years were evaluated retrospectively. RESULTS: Pubertal development began and progressed normally in both males and females. In boys, a testicular volume of 4 ml was reached at 11.3+/-1.0 years. In girls breast enlargement (B2) occurred at a mean age of 10.3+/-1.2 years and the mean age of menarche was 12.5+/-1.2 years. The onset and the progression of puberty were independent of the aetiology, the severity of CH and the timing of the beginning of treatment. Girls treated with an initial amount of L-thyroxine (L-T4) greater than 8 microg/kg per day showed an earlier onset of puberty (B2 9.4+/-0.9 years; menarche 11.5+/-0.8 years) compared with girls treated with a lower initial dose of L-T4 (B2 10.5+/-1.2 years; menarche 12.6+/-1.2 years; P<0.02). However, both groups attained a similar final height (-0.1+/-1.0 SDS and 0.4+/-1.0 SDS, respectively), which in both cases was above the target height (P=0.03). All the patients in the study attained a mean final height (0.1+/-1.1 SDS) within the normal range for the reference population and above the target height (-0.9+/-0.9 SDS, P<0.0001). No significant relationship was found between final height and severity of CH at diagnosis, initial L-T4 dosage or aetiology of the defect. Patients with ectopic gland, thyroid aplasia or in situ gland attained a similar mean final height (0.1+/-1.1 SDS, 0.5+/-1.0 SDS and -0.5+/-1.0 SDS, respectively), which was in all cases greater than target height (-1.0+/-0.9, -0.6+/-0.8, -0.9+/-0.8 respectively; P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that conventional management of children with CH detected by neonatal screening leads to normal sexual development and normal adult height, and that the major factor determining height in these children is familial genetic growth potential.
M Salerno, M Micillo, S Di Maio, D Capalbo, P Ferri, T Lettiero, and A Tenore
M Cools, P Hoebeke, K P Wolffenbuttel, H Stoop, R Hersmus, M Barbaro, A Wedell, H Brüggenwirth, L H J Looijenga, and S L S Drop
Most patients with NR5A1 (SF-1) mutations and poor virilization at birth are sex-assigned female and receive early gonadectomy. Although studies in pituitary-specific Sf-1 knockout mice suggest hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, little is known about endocrine function at puberty and on germ cell tumor risk in patients with SF-1 mutations. This study reports on the natural course during puberty and on gonadal histology in two adolescents with SF-1 mutations and predominantly female phenotype at birth.
Design and methods
Clinical and hormonal data and histopathological studies are reported in one male and one female adolescent with, respectively, a nonsense mutation (c.9T>A, p.Tyr3X) and a deletion of the first two coding exons (NCBI36/hg18 Chr9:g.(126306276-126307705)_(126303229-126302828)del) of NR5A1, both predicted to fully disrupt gene function.
LH and testosterone concentrations were in the normal male range, virilization was disproportionate to the neonatal phenotype. In the girl, gonadectomy at 13 years revealed incomplete spermatogenesis and bilateral precursor lesions of testicular carcinoma in situ. In the boy, at the age of 12, numerous germ cells without signs of malignancy were present in bilateral testicular biopsy specimen.
In SF-1 mutations, the neonatal phenotype poorly predicts virilization at puberty. Even in poorly virilized cases at birth, male gender assignment may allow spontaneous puberty without signs of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, and possibly fertility. Patients with SF-1 mutations are at increased risk for malignant germ cell tumors. In case of preserved gonads, early orchidopexy and germ cell tumor screening is warranted. The finding of premalignant and/or malignant changes should prompt gonadectomy or possibly irradiation.
Johanna Laru, Marja Ojaniemi, Stephen Franks, Marjo-Riitta Järvelin, Elisa Korhonen, Terhi T Piltonen, Sylvain Sebert, Juha S Tapanainen, and Laure Morin-Papunen
This study aimed to evaluate the association between birth weight (BW), childhood and adolescent BMI, with reproductive capacity in men.
A prospective, population-based cohort study (Northern Finland birth cohort 1966).
Around 6196 men born in 1966 were followed from birth to age 50 years. Weight and height were measured repeatedly by professionals. Reproductive capacity (infertility assessment, male factor infertility and infertility treatment by age 46 years) was evaluated by questionnaires at ages 31 and 46 years. The number of children by the age of 50 years was recovered from registers. After excluding the men who reported never having attempted to have children or not answering the question at age 31 or 46 years (n = 2041), 4128 men were included in the final study population. Results were adjusted for BW, BW for gestational age (GA), mother’s smoking status, marital status, educational level and smoking status.
Being small for GA (10.5% vs 8.2%, P = 0.012) or having a lower BW (3495 g vs 3548 g, P = 0.003) were associated with childlessness. The association was however no longer significant after adjusting for marital status. Being underweight in early childhood was associated with an increased risk of infertility assessment (adjusted, aOR: 2.04(1.07–3.81)) and childlessness (aOR: 1.47(1.01–2.17)) compared to the normal weight group. Conversely, overweight or obesity in early childhood was associated with a decreased risk of infertility assessment (aOR: 0.60 (0.41–0.87)), treatment (aOR: 0.42 (0.25–0.70)) and male factor infertility (aOR: 0.45 (0.21–0.97)). BMI in mid-childhood or puberty had no association with infertility or childlessness.
In boys, an optimal growth trajectory during pregnancy and early childhood seems to be very important for life-long fertility.
Catherine Peters and Nadia Schoenmakers
Transient congenital hypothyroidism (TCH) refers to congenital hypothyroidism which spontaneously resolves in the first few months or years of life. Currently, there is a paucity of reliable markers predicting TCH at diagnosis, and the diagnosis is established following the withdrawal of levothyroxine therapy around 3 years of age. The incidence of TCH is increasing, and it is a major contributor to the overall increase in the incidence of CH in recent studies. Both genetic factors, in particular mutations affecting DUOX2 and DUOXA2, and environmental factors, for example, iodine deficiency and excess, anti- TSHR antibodies and exposure to antithyroid or iodine-rich medications, may cause TCH. Resolution of TCH in childhood may reflect both normal thyroid physiology (decreased thyroid hormone biosynthesis requirements after the neonatal period) and clearance or cessation of environmental precipitants. The relative contributions and interactions of genetic and environmental factors to TCH, and the extent to which TCH may be prevented, require evaluation in future population-based studies.
Celia Aradillas-García, Martha Rodríguez-Morán, María Eugenia Garay-Sevilla, Juan Manuel Malacara, Ramón Alberto Rascon-Pacheco, and Fernando Guerrero-Romero
Several cutoff points of the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR; varying from 2.5 to 4.0) have been suggested for diagnosing IR in youth. In this study, we determined the distribution of the HOMA-IR in Mexican children and adolescents.
Design and methods
A total of 6132 children and adolescents from San Luis Potosi, León, Queretaro, and Durango, which are cities in central and northern Mexico, were enrolled in a population-based cross-sectional study. Eligible participants were apparently healthy children and adolescents aged 6–18 years. Pregnancy and the presence of chronic illnesses were exclusion criteria.
A total of 3701 (60.3%) girls and 2431 (39.7%) boys were included in this study. In the overall population, the mean body mass index, insulin levels, and fasting glucose levels were 21.8±1.3 kg/m2, 7.1±3.2 μU/ml, and 86.2±10.0 mg/dl respectively. The concentrations of insulin and fasting glucose gradually increased from 6 to 12 years of age, whereas the concentrations tended to plateau in the 13- to 18-year-old population. The absolute mean of the HOMA-IR was 2.89±0.7. The HOMA-IR gradually increased with age and reached a plateau at 13 years of age.
Because the insulin concentrations, glucose levels, and HOMA-IR exhibited a gradual increase with age that was not related to obesity, our results suggested that the evaluation of IR in children should be based on percentiles of the HOMA-IR rather than a dichotomous value derived from a single cutoff point.
S Bellone, F Prodam, S Savastio, D Avanzo, A Pagani, L Trovato, G E Walker, G Genoni, and G Bona
Ghrelin is a peptide with multiple functions that circulates in acylated (AG) and unacylated (UAG) forms. However, the role of ghrelin in neonates (NN) remains to be clarified.
The aim of this study was to determine ghrelin concentrations of the two forms in NN to clarify their biological roles. As such, ghrelin levels at birth were compared with those in later life.
Setting and design
Tertiary Care Center. In this cross-sectional study, we evaluated AG, UAG, AG/UAG ratio, and insulin levels in venous cord blood from NN and in fasted normal weight (NW) and obese (OB) children, both prepubertal and pubertal.
We studied 82 NN, 82 NW, and 58 OB children.
AG levels were lower in NN than in NW and OB children (P<0.0001), more specifically the prepubertal NW and OB children (P<0.0001). UAG levels were higher in NN than in NW and OB children (P<0.0001). Therefore, the AG/UAG ratio was lower in NN than in NW and OB children (P<0.0001). NN showed insulin levels similar to NW and lower than OB children (P<0.0001). At birth UAG was positively correlated with AG (Pearson: 0.425; P<0.0001) and negatively with insulin (−0.253; P<0.02). In NW and OB, UAG and AG were positively correlated to each other and negatively correlated with insulin and body mass index (−0.566; P<0.0001).
NN compared with children, showed higher UAG and lower AG levels. The AG/UAG ratio showed a very different profile in NN, being lower than in NW and OB children, thus suggesting a different metabolic function for the two forms in NN. Further studies are needed to clarify the exact role of the different ghrelin forms in NN.
D T Ward, M Z Mughal, M Ranieri, M M Dvorak-Ewell, G Valenti, and D Riccardi
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’.
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.
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.
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.
Carmen Freire, Rosa Ramos, Esperanza Amaya, Mariana F Fernández, Piedad Santiago-Fernández, Maria-Jose Lopez-Espinosa, Juan-Pedro Arrebola, and Nicolas Olea
An association between thyroid function during pregnancy or infancy and neurodevelopment in children has been demonstrated. We aimed to investigate whether newborn TSH concentrations are related to subsequent neurocognitive development.
We conducted a longitudinal study on 178 children from a general population birth cohort in Granada (Spain) born in 2000–2002.
TSH concentrations were measured in umbilical cord blood, and cognitive functions were assessed at 4 years of age using the McCarthy's scales of children's abilities (MSCA). Organochlorine (OC) compound concentrations and the combined oestrogenicity (total effective xeno-oestrogenic burden (TEXB)) were also determined in the placentae.
Mean newborn TSH was 3.55 mU/l (range=0.24–17 mU/l). In multivariate regression analyses, adjusting for maternal and child characteristics, higher newborn TSH concentrations showed a decrease of 3.51 and 3.15 points on the MSCA general cognitive and executive function scores respectively and were associated with a higher risk of scoring below the 20th percentile (P20) on the quantitative score (odds ratio (OR)=2.64). Children with TSH in the upper quartile (4.19–17.0 mU/l) were at higher risk of scoring <P20 on span memory (OR=5.73), whereas children with TSH in the second quartile (2.05–2.95 mU/l) were at lower risk of scoring <P20 on the verbal scale (OR=0.24). Neonatal TSH status was also associated with general cognitive and executive function outcomes when controlling for prenatal exposure to OCs or placental TEXB.
Newborn thyroid hormone status expressed by TSH in cord blood may adversely affect later cognitive function. A more thorough screening for neonatal thyroid deficiency is warranted.
P Dimitri, J T Warner, J A L Minton, A M Patch, S Ellard, A T Hattersley, S Barr, D Hawkes, J K Wales, and J W Gregory
Mutations in the GLI-similar 3 (GLIS3) gene encoding the transcription factor GLIS3 are a rare cause of neonatal diabetes and congenital hypothyroidism with six affected cases from three families reported to date. Additional features, described previously, include congenital glaucoma, hepatic fibrosis, polycystic kidneys, developmental delay and facial dysmorphism.
We report two new cases from unrelated families with distinct novel homozygous partial GLIS3 deletions. Both patients presented with neonatal diabetes mellitus, severe resistant hypothyroidism in the presence of elevated thyroglobulin and normal thyroid anatomy, degenerative liver disease, cystic renal dysplasia, recurrent infections and facial dysmorphism. These novel mutations have also resulted in osteopenia, bilateral sensorineural deafness and pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, features that have not previously been associated with GLIS3 mutations. Gene dosage analysis showed that the parents were carriers of a deletion encompassing exons 1–2 (case 1) or exons 1–4 (case 2) of the 11 exon gene. Genome-wide SNP analysis did not reveal a common ancestral GLIS3 haplotype in patient 2.
Our results confirm partial gene deletions as the most common type of GLIS3 mutations, accounting for four of five families identified to date. We propose that mutations in GLIS3 lead to a wider clinical phenotype than previously recognised. We also report the first case of a recessive GLIS3 mutation causing neonatal diabetes and congenital hypothyroidism in a child from a non-consanguineous pedigree, highlighting the importance of molecular genetic testing in any patient with this phenotype.
Nicoletta Bisacchi, Milva Orquidea Bal, Laura Nardi, Ilaria Bettocchi, Graziana D'Addabbo, Veronica Conti, Sara Monti, Franco D'Alberton, Alessandro Cicognani, and Alessandra Cassio
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.