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.
S Bargagna, D Dinetti, A Pinchera, M Marcheschi, L Montanelli, S Presciuttini and L Chiovato
F Santini, A Pinchera, G Ceccarini, M Castagna, V Rosellini, C Mammoli, L Montanelli, V Zucchi, IJ Chopra and L Chiovato
OBJECTIVE: Thyroid hormone is essential for maintaining normal neurological functions both during development and in adult life. Type III-iodothyronine deiodinase (D3) degrades thyroid hormones by converting thyroxine and 3,5,3'-triiodothyroinine (T3) to inactive metabolites. A regional expression of D3 activity has been observed in the human central nervous system (CNS), and a critical role for D3 has been suggested in the regulation of local T3 content in concert with other enzymes. DESIGN: This study was undertaken to further characterize D3 activity in human CNS and to understand its role in the local regulation of T3 content. METHODS: Autoptic specimens from various areas of human CNS were obtained 6--27 h postmortem from 14 donors who died from cardiovascular accident, neoplastic disease or infectious disease. D3 was determined by measuring the conversion of T3 to 3,3'-diiodothyronine. The T3 content was measured by radioimmunoassay in ethanol extracts, using a specific antiserum. RESULTS: High levels of D3 activity were observed in hippocampus and temporal cortex, lower levels being found in the thalamus, hypothalamus, midbrain cerebellum, parietal and frontal cortex, and brain stem. An inverse relationship between D3 activity and T3 content in these areas was demonstrated. CONCLUSIONS: We have concluded that D3 contributes to the local regulation of T3 content in the human CNS.