Pune: One in every 1,400 children born in the city suffers from thyroid disorder, and yet only a fraction of these kids are diagnosed with the disorder in time. Since screening tests for thyroid hormone deficiency isn’t mandatory, and considering that barely a handful of both private as well as public hospitals bother to include it in the neo-natal screening programme make things worse.
Head of the paediatric department at DY Patil Medical College, Dr Sharad Agharkhedkar said that for every week’s delay in discovery of thyroidism, there is a corresponding loss of IQ by 5 points. That means, if a two-month-old baby is detected with the ailment, he would have already lost 40-45 points on IQ. Also, babies born to mothers with thyroid disorders (about 8-10% pregnant women) are at the risk of thyroidism, if not treated well during pregnancy.
City doctors demand twin screening of both pregnant women and newborns as an effective solution to curb the rising ‘epidemic’ of thyroid disorders.
Speaking to dna on World Thyroid day, Agharkhedkar said, “It is crucial to screen babies right after birth. While there is a lack of awareness about this issue among parents, it should be the responsibility of hospitals to test newborns for the disorder. If the disorder is not detected in time, it can have dire consequences on the baby’s growth.”
Besides, the possibility of a woman becoming a thyroid patient increases during pregnancy, which raises the chances of the baby getting the disorder. Dr Bakshi, an endocrinologist at Inamdar Multispeciality Hospital said, “If the disorder is detected on time and medication is given to the mother, chances of it passing on to the baby are nil. However, if hypothyroidism is not controlled during pregnancy, it invariably passes on to the baby.”
Severely stunted physical growth, mental retardation, blood pressure problems and obesity are the most common effects of thyroid disorder in children.
Dr Nilesh Patil, an endocrinologist at Inamdar Hospital, said, “If controlled during pregnancy, hypothyroidism in the mother poses no threat to the baby. Yet most expecting mothers overlook the obvious symptoms of thyroid disorder, such as weight gain. They ignore the signs for far too long and damage becomes irreversible.”