Background: A recent study suggested that sexual dimorphism affects initial thyroid function in congenital hypothyroidism (CH) but differs according to aetiology of CH.
Aims: To determine if sexual dimorphism was associated with biochemical severity of CH and its aetiology in our large British population.
Methods: We examined retrospectively the initial thyroid function tests of 140 infants diagnosed with CH from screening. All infants underwent Tc-pertechnetate radionuclide scans at diagnosis to establish the aetiology of CH prior to commencement of treatment. Patients were classified into athyreosis, ectopia and presumed dyshormonogenesis on the basis of thyroid scans. A comparison of males and females were made within the three aetiological groups for gestational age, birth weight, initial dose of levothyroxine (LT4), screening TSH, confirmatory plasma thyroxine (T4), confirmatory plasma TSH and age of TSH suppression.
Results: There was no significant difference between sexes for gestation, birth weight and initial treatment dose in all aetiological subgroups. In thyroid ectopia, screening TSH and confirmatory plasma TSH were significantly higher in females compared with males (P < 0.01), while confirmatory plasma T4 were significantly lower in females (P < 0.05). No difference was detected between males and females in athyreosis and dyshormonogenesis subgroups for screening TSH, confirmatory plasma TSH and total T4.
Conclusion: Sexual dimorphism influenced the biochemical severity of thyroid ectopia in congenital hypothyroidism in our British population. However, this effect was not apparent in patients with athyreosis or dyshormonogenesis. Further advances in the molecular genetics of CH are essential to evaluate this phenomenon further.