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Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT): heel prick screening

About congenital hypothyroidism

Babies born with congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) do not make enough of the hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine is an important chemical made by a gland in the neck called the thyroid gland.

Babies with CHT may not have a fully formed thyroid gland, or it may be missing. Sometimes the gland is normally formed and in the right place but may not be producing thyroxine.

Babies who do not produce enough thyroxine can have growth problems as well as physical and mental disabilities.

Babies born in Ireland with CHT

Around 1 in every 2,300 babies born in Ireland has CHT.

Unlike the other conditions we screen for, only a very small number of CHT cases are inherited – most occur spontaneously.

How heel prick screening can help

If the heel prick suggests your baby may have CHT, they will be referred to a specialist.

If CHT is confirmed, your baby can get medication to replace the missing hormone, thyroxine.

If treatment starts early, your baby will develop normally.

The treatment is usually for life and the dose is adjusted as the baby grows.

Page last reviewed: 28/11/2018
Next review due: 28/11/2021