Neonatal Graves' Disease: Hyperthyroidism in Newborn Babies

It's not always known or understood by thyroid patients -- and even thyroid specialists and obstetricians are not always on top of the issue -- but when a woman has (or had) Graves' disease, even after receiving RAI treatment, antibodies can sometimes transfer to her unborn baby, and the baby can be born with elevated antibodies and hyperthyroidism. This condition -- called neonatal hyperthyroidism -- is a risk to the newborn.

A thyroid patient and mother just wrote to me recently, to share her story, in the hopes that I would help get the word out to women who may not be aware of this situation. She writes:

"I wanted to write because of what happened to me when I was pregnant with my first son.  I thought if I shared this with you, maybe one day you could let the world know what happened to me.  I was diagnosed and treated with RAI for Graves' in 1991, when I was 16.  I was told it would do nothing to me, or to future babies I might have. When I was pregnant for the first time in 2003, I found out I was having problems with my baby at 28 weeks, due to fluid in his lungs.  No one knew what was wrong. Test after test was performed, and nothing came back abnormal.  I even went to a top university to see a doctor and and drew the fluid out of the baby's lungs. That fluid also came back normal.  I went into labor at 31 weeks, and my baby passed away shortly after.  The doctors did not know what was wrong and why. I had to have an autopsy done to find out what was wrong.  We found out that my son had Graves' disease while I was carrying him. For some strange reason, my thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) antibody levels had become elevated -- through the roof -- and attacked his thyroid.  Everyone told me that what happened to me and my baby is so unheard of and rare that there really was nothing anyone could have done.  Which I find very hard to believe, because my research says otherwise.  Not until my third son was born, and when I saw a pediatric endocrinologist, did he finally tell me that someone, somewhere should have caught this and done something about it.  It is rare that this happened, but the thought and idea should have been there.  My hope is that you can get this out there for other women to read, so that they at least know.   When I was pregnant with my second son, they put me on PTU to get to him to keep the TSI at bay.  It did what it was supposed to have done when I was carrying him, but after he was born, he still developed Graves' disease, because he still had my TSI antibodies in him. He spent two and a half weeks in neonatal intensive care and then three months on PTU, and is fine now.  Same with my third son.  I wanted to share this with you so that maybe you could get this out there one day to help others."

Learn more about neonatal hyperthyroidism now.



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