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Difficulties in selecting an appropriate neonatal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) screening threshold

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Srinivasa Korada, Professor Mark PearceORCiD, Dr Martin Ward Platt, Dr Stephen Turner, Dr Hilary Wastell, Professor Timothy Cheetham


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Background The UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre recommends that a blood spot thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) cut-off of 10 mU/l is used to detect congenital hypothyroidism (CHT). As the value used varies from 5 to 10 mU/l, we examined the implications of altering this threshold. Methods Our regional blood spot TSH cut-off is 6 mU/l. Positive or suspected cases were defined as a TSH > 6 mU/l throughout the study period (1 April 2005 to 1 March 2007). All term infants (> 35 weeks) whose first TSH was 6-20 mU/l had a second TSH measured. The biochemical details of infants with a TSH between 6.1 and 10.0 mU/l and then > 6 mU/l on second sampling were sent to paediatric endocrinologists to determine approaches to management. Results 148 of 65 446 infants (0.23%) had a first blood spot TSH > 6.0 mU/l. 120 were term infants with 67 of these (0.1% of all infants tested) having a TSH between 6.1 and 10.0 mU/l and 53 a TSH > 10.0 mU/l. Of the 67 term infants with a TSH between 6.1 and 10.0 mU/l on initial testing, four continued to have a TSH > 6 mU/l. One with a TSH > 10 mU/l and one infant with a TSH < 10 mU/l on the second blood spot have been diagnosed with CHT. The survey of endocrinologists highlighted significant differences in practice. Conclusions A reduced threshold of 6 mU/l will increase the number of false positive term infants by 126%, but abnormalities of thyroid function requiring treatment will be detected. We suspect that the additional expense involved in setting a lower threshold is justified.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Korada SM, Pearce M, Platt MPW, Avis E, Turner S, Wastell H, Cheetham T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archives of Disease in Childhood

Year: 2010

Volume: 95

Issue: 3

Pages: 169-173

ISSN (print): 0003-9888

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2044

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/adc.2008.147884


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