Author(s): Shields BM, Knight BA, Hill A, Hattersley AT, Vaidya B
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Abstract CONTEXT: Thyroid function is known to play an important role in fetal neurological development, but its role in regulating fetal growth is not well established. Overt maternal and fetal thyroid disorders are associated with reduced birth weight. We hypothesized that, even in the absence of overt thyroid dysfunction, maternal and fetal thyroid function influence fetal growth. AIM: In normal, healthy pregnancies, we aimed to assess whether fetal thyroid hormone at birth (as measured in cord blood) is associated with fetal growth. We also aimed to study whether fetal thyroid hormone at birth is associated with maternal thyroid hormone in the third trimester. METHODS: In 616 healthy mother-child pairs, TSH, free T(4) (FT4), and free T(3) (FT3) were measured in mothers at 28 wk gestation and in umbilical cord blood at birth. Birth weight, length, head circumference, and tricep and bicep skinfold thicknesses were measured on the babies. RESULTS: Cord FT4 was associated with birth weight (r = 0.25; P < 0.001), length (r = 0.17; P < 0.001), and sum of skinfolds (r = 0.19; P < 0.001). There were no associations between birth measurements and either cord TSH or cord FT3. Maternal FT4 and cord FT4 were correlated (r = 0.14; P = 0.0004), and there were weaker negative associations between maternal TSH and cord FT4 (r = -0.08; P = 0.04) and FT3 (r = -0.10; P = 0.01). CONCLUSION: Associations between cord FT4 and birth size suggest that fetal thyroid function may be important in regulating fetal growth, both of skeletal size and fat. The correlation between third-trimester maternal FT4 and cord FT4 supports the belief that maternal T(4) crosses the placenta even in late gestation.
This article was published in J Clin Endocrinol Metab
and referenced in Journal of Neonatal Biology