Down Syndrome the Thyroid Link


The Thyroid Summit 2017

Motherhood Interrupted – Autism and Down Syndrome

During the summit a few children with Down Syndrome were interviewed, a couple were able to show before and after treatment for Hashimoto’s. The difference was nothing short of amazing at how they really did blossom into no different from any other normal child in all aspects of behavior and communication. These three doctors are specialists in the testing, treatment and levels of recovery for these children and young adults. Visit their web pages for further information on all topics mentioned here.

The following are my notes from the interviews in this summit.

Dana Trentini MA, Ed M
web page

The endocrinology society recommends for hypothyroid women a TSH of less than 2.5 for a healthy pregnancy. This is for pre-conception and their first trimester, less than 3.0 in their second and third, higher can cause a miscarriage. I found out that from a study done only 11.7% of doctors knew this. Doctors were not reading the guidelines as only a fraction of that 11.7% that read the study read the guidelines. Women don’t have to have miscarriages, stillbirths, premature babies, and children with Autism as a result of hypothyroidism. When these babies are being lost and harmed needlessly somebody has to stand up and protect them.

There is no universal thyroid screening in pregnancy, if you think about the statistics the Thyroid International had on their website that there are 300 million people with thyroid disease and half of them are undiagnosed. The majority of them are women , and I thought, there are 150 million women who don’t know they have thyroid disease and many of them are going to become pregnant. Women with postpartum depression should also be tested for hypothyroidism, best is pre-pregnancy testing, during and post.

One thing I find that’s very important is we are all so different in how we react to the fillers, the compounding agents in the dyes in the medications. I don’t want people to be having to play around in pregnancy because I have had bad reactions to some meds. What I would ideally like to see is for them to be playing with that before they ever become pregnant. Find your sweet spot, find that right dosage that makes you feel great, find that right medication. Your magnesium, your B12, vit D, and zinc, you have to figure out. For me ferritin, if my ferritin is below 80 my hair falls out. I had no idea my ferritin was so low, it was 30 or 40, it was luckily after reading an article by Mary Shomon that ferritin is supposed to be around 80. I started reading hair loss experts and ferritin should be 80, why doesn’t anyone know this. If you’re getting postpartum and you’re getting severe hair loss please go find out your ferritin levels.

Nutrient deficiencies are so important, if you find out you have Hashimoto’s wouldn’t it be great pre-conception to deal with the triggers. Finding out if it’s viral or bacterial infections, or do you have candida, leaky gut, heavy metal toxicity, sex hormone imbalances, adrenal stress, food sensitivities, food intolerances, what are the triggers. You don’t want to play with all of this stuff that you might take medications for that is not even safe to take during pregnancies. The idea is to do it all pre-conception and get yourself as thyroid healthy as possible so you don’t have to worry about what is not safe in pregnancy.

The American Thyroid Association recommends your TSH be below 2.5 pre-conception and if you’re a hypothyroid woman be treated. That’s really important because your TSH can rise so quickly in pregnancy, so to begin with you want your TSH below 2.5. Where is optimal? I don’t like listing the optimal personally, because I think we are all different, each level, it’s where does my TH feel best, my Free TH, it’s all individual and about finding what’s optimal for that particular person.

The first twelve weeks that baby is completely dependent on you for it’s growth and development. Thyroid hormones are essential for it’s growth and development because thyroid hormones are essential for brain development. What’s so sad is when I miscarried I should have known something was seriously wrong when I went for my first ultrasound and they said your baby is several weeks earlier than what you’re stating, are you sure your period was really when it was. I said I do know because I charted it, I knew exactly when it was. Now, thinking about it I just didn’t have enough thyroid hormone for this poor baby to grow. You need thyroid hormone for growth and brain development, your TSH can rise very quickly, the goal is to have a plan in pre-conception.

Number one you want a lab requisition form in advance with your doctor so that way as soon as you find out you’re pregnant you just show up at the lab. You say to your doctor I need that lab requisition form because I don’t want to wait for you, you may be on vacation or holiday or you might not answer the phone because it’s the weekend. You want to know right away that you can go in for testing. The other important thing is there is a recommendation that, independently pregnant women, when she get’s her first positive pregnancy test, her first missed period. There is a recommendation that says increase your dosage independently without your doctor by 25-30% and call your caregiver. That’s what I did and I saved my baby that way, when you get pregnant it increases your requirement for thyroid hormone immediately. I discussed this with my doctor to please tell me what is the increase percent I need to do that day, she said 25%, call my office but don’t wait for me.

Dr. Erica Peirson ND
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The connection between the thyroid hormone, maternal thyroid hormone and the fetal thyroid hormone, is important for brain development and is isolated to the mothers in the first fourteen weeks of gestation. After about fourteen weeks the fetal thyroid development starts to occur and then that thyroid hormone for the fetus can start to take over a little bit. The mothers thyroid hormone is still certainly important throughout the pregnancy for the development of that child particularly brain development. The brain starts to form in the first trimester when the mothers thyroid hormone is most important. If the mother is experiencing even sub-clinical hypothyroidism or autoimmune hypothyroidism when she gets pregnant, should she get pregnant, that there are long term consequences to the brain development of that child.

When that child is born, say the mothers thyroid, hypothyroidism never gets detected during her pregnancy it’s such a complicated interplay. It’s not totally understood, maternal and fetal hypothyroid hormone. The term I use is maternal hypothyroid function, sets the tone for the thyroid function of the child once it’s born. That child can then experience perhaps sub-clinical hypothyroidism, over hypothyroidism after birth, and continue to have those long term consequences. Brain development is hugely dependent on thyroid hormone particularly oligodendrocytes within the brain that create the insulating layer around neurons, the myelin sheath. If those are not functioning properly then the neuron connections are not functioning properly within the brain. This puts women at greater risk of having children with Autism and Down Syndrome. There are studies that showed that maternal hypothyroidism is absolutely connected to Autism. There are some studies that support a connection to Down Syndrome, one study from the 1970s that showed that mothers of children with Down Syndrome have a tendency toward Hypothyroidism.

When my patients son was born he had a TSH of 30, the cutoff in that state for congenital hypothyroidism is 33 TSH. He got sent home to many sick visits with the doctor. Reflux, eye issues, colds and flu’s that he had trouble recovering from, antibiotics for ear infections. It finally got detected, his TSH, I think was 12 when he was 2 and he now has a diagnosis of Autism. She has another son that was born with a TSH of 35 so he got detected and got thyroid treatment right away and he does not have Autism. I think that her story is a perfect example of other children who are getting missed for hypothyroidism.

Signs in very young children, I think what’s obvious is low muscle tone. Children when they are first born stay in that fetal position, staying with their arms and legs flexed, not just when they’re wrapped in a blanket. Children with low muscle tone, it’s called floppy baby where the arms are out. The protruding tongue can be obvious very young, feeding issues, choking if a child breast or bottle feeding has a little bit more choking episodes than normal. A low tone will create an inability to get as much nutrients from the breast milk as they need from the mother or will tire quickly on the bottle. An infant who sleeps through the night is a sign of hypothyroidism, a child should be waking every 6-8 hours because they are hungry. Prolonged jaundice, a little bit is normal, a breakdown of the red blood cells. The liver isn’t developed enough in some infants to process the haematoidin, billirubin from the breakdown of the red blood cells and they get a little bit yellow and maybe go under the lights for a little bit. The way that the billirubin is removed from the body is through the bowels, hypothyroidism slow bowels.

Delayed development and liver function, big belly, umbilical hernia, and some doctors will say it’s normal it will just go down over time. I’m not saying every child who has umbilical hernia has hypothyroidism or every child with jaundice, but it should raise a little bit of a red flag. Let’s look for some other things to make sure, It’s this child’s life that we’re dealing with. In my experience and opinion the research isn’t there yet.

Every child with Down Syndrome experiences hypothyroidism, all of them not just increased risk. It starts if not in utero certainly from day one of life, it’s at a level that a congenital hypothyroid screening doesn’t always detect it. Doctors aren’t detecting it based on symptoms because again their symptoms are often dismissed as this child has Down Syndrome so we would expect them to have low muscle tone, dry skin, constipation, low growth, all thyroid symptoms. But they get dismissed all the time so I get parents who are very frustrated. Not that they’re not accepting of their child and their condition and the extra chromosome, they love their children just as any other child but they see that there is a possibility there is another explanation. They come to me and we look at more detailed labs, that’s where it really counts not just a TSH, not just a Free T4, but more detailed, and the hypothyroidism can be detected at that level.

Down Syndrome and hypothyroidism have all the same symptoms. When I started helping these children as a naturopathic physician I thought yes, I can help with diet and their immune system. Kind of do what I did with my son, just keep a really healthy clean diet and then the thyroid piece started coming through. All this that I didn’t even know was possible and I almost didn’t believe it at first and parents don’t believe this, I call them the Oh My God emails. I didn’t know, my child like suddenly woke up, the lights came on. The way I describe it when a child is experiencing hypothyroidism and it gets corrected it’s like their world gets bigger. The thyroid hormone is so important for the brain, so important for every cell of our body that with hypothyroid things are shut down a little bit, their world is smaller. When you give them that thyroid hormone it’s like watering a flower and they just blossom, it’s really fascinating.

Dr. Elena Koles MD, PhD
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Statistics say that a Mom who has Hashimoto’s has an 80% risk for a child who could have Autism, but Autism is a multifactorial problem. All the toxins that we have inside of our bodies and pregnant women now have a lot of toxicities and they are not prepared for motherhood. That is also one of the biggest problems and usually doctors do not prepare a woman for pregnancy because they already see a pregnant woman. Unfortunately education, especially in the U.S. for some reason, is not so high to prepare a woman with knowledge how she could prevent all kinds of problems in her future for the fetus and newborn. If she is toxic the fetus will be toxic, if she has an autoimmune disease disorder the child will also be at high risk. If they both live in a bad environment with junk food, drink just tap water not filtered, there is no way that these people will be healthy. Children are more sensitive to all kinds of toxins.

A woman with Hashimoto’s needs to know about possible food allergies and sensitivities, sensitive to mold because mold is very toxic and could cause a lot of problems and should be tested. If a Mom has dental fillings with amalgams that could be high risk for her and the baby and should also be tested. If she has any kind of gut problems, dysbiosis, colitis, indigestion, heartburn, anything, that should be tested for the trigger and be treated. All these together and separately will promote problems in the child. He is of her body and doesn’t have the capacity to fight them. Doesn’t have immunity, digestive enzymes, doesn’t have good microflora in the gut. How can he or she fight all this stuff that we put inside him or her, that’s very difficult. Nowadays in our environment parents should be prepared for pregnancy and having children.

In a book I read by Dr. Peter Glidden N.D. titled The MD Emperor has no Clothes, he wrote:
“Down Syndrome is a genetic disease which is irreversible after the child is born. In this particular case, the diagnosis was made during the pregnancy. Sometime in the first three months of the pregnancy, fluid from the mother’s womb was collected through a procedure called amniocentesis. Analyses of the fluid determined that the fetus had Down’s Syndrome
. Upon receiving the diagnosis, the mother started an aggressive Naturopathic nutrition program and about seven months later, the child was born completely normal. This happened because the gene that codes for Down’s Syndrome is turned on by the absence of nutrients in the mother’s system. (This is true of all genetic diseases, not just down’s Syndrome). When the mother became 100% nutrified by taking nutritional supplements, the genetic expression of the disease was turned off. In this case it was turned off before it was too late, and the child was born with perfect health”. Dr. Glidden web page



The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher