Maternal thyroid function during pregnancy and behavioral problems in the offspring: The generation R study

Akhgar Ghassabian, Jacoba J. Bongers-Schokking, Jens Henrichs, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Theo J. Visser, Willy Visser, Sabine M.P.F. De Muinck Keizer-Schrama, Herbert Hooijkaas, Eric A.P. Steegers, Albert Hofman, Frank C. Verhulst, Jan Van Der Ende, Yolanda B. De Rijke, Henning Tiemeier

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Maternal thyroid function during pregnancy is implicated in the neurodevelopment of the offspring, yet little is known about the effect of maternal thyroid parameters on the behavior of children. We investigated the association of maternal thyroid function during the first half of pregnancy with parent-reported problem behavior of the offspring up to age of 3 y. In the Generation R study, a population-based cohort of 3736 children and their mothers, data on maternal thyroid function and child's behavior were examined. The degree of internalizing and externalizing problems in the children were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist at ages 11/2 and 3 y. Higher levels of maternal TSH during pregnancy predicted a higher externalizing scores in children at 11/2 and 3 y (B = 0.22 per SD of TSH; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.40; B = 0.10 per SD for internalizing scores; 95% CI:-0.01, 0.21). Maternal free thyroxine (T4) and total T4 were not associated with internalizing or externalizing scores of children. The linear relationship with more externalizing scores was across the range of TSH; this implies that subtle impairments of maternal thyroid function may affect the child. The results suggest that thyroid function is crucial for fetal brain development, which determines problem behavior later in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-459
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5 PART 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011
Externally publishedYes

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