Mandatory screening of newborns for congenital hypothyroidism and creating awareness among people would help prevent the condition which affects one in 1,172 newborns, top endocrinologists have said.
"Recognising the disease early is the key in the treatment of congenital hypothyroidism," HOD, Endocrinology Department of the SSKM Medical College and Hospital, Dr Subhankar Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury cited an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study which showed that the disease affects one in 1,172 babies.
Chowdhury and other endocrinologists were speaking on the causes and effects and role of medical fraternity and government bodies in tackling congenital hypothyroidism at a programme.
Babies born with congenital hypothyroidism appear normal during birth even if there is complete lack of development of the thyroid gland, mainly because of a small amount of thyroid hormone (T4) from the mother is transferred to the baby during pregnancy.
In Congenital Hypothyroidism, the baby suffers from mental retardation and improper growth but an early detection and quick treatment would be able to help it with normal physical and neurological growth.
"We need to raise the awareness level among people about this disease. A newborn must be screened for Congenital Hypothyroidism within three to four days of birth," Chowdhury said.
In fact, there would be a huge difference in the results between treating a newborn and a six-year-old child.
"There is no point in treating the baby when it is six years old because more than 80 per cent damage has already been done by then," NRS Medical College and Hospital Prof Dr Nilanjan Sengupta said.
Even the treatment is not costly and it should be made mandatory in the country as it is in other developed countries, Associate Professor of the Endocrinology Department of SSKM Hospital Dr Sujoy Ghosh said.
Stressing that Congenital Hypothyroidism is not a heritable one, Dr Chakravorty opined that neonatal screening for the disease can be done using the heel prick filter paper blood sample and it's a universal practice.