Sporadic and Endemic Congenital Hypothyroidism: Evidence for Autosensitization

  • Steven C. Boyages
  • Jan Willem Lens
  • Reindert D. van der Gaag
  • Glen F. Maberly
  • Creswell J. Eastman
  • Hemmo A. Drexhage
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 161)


Although aetiologically distinct sporadic and endemic congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism) share a common historical ancestry. Until the early 17th century endemic cretinism remained largely a travellers’ curiosity and was attributed to inbreeding, isolation, or various climactic factors (1). Felix Platter of Basle (1602) is credited with the first accurate medical description. The thyroid gland was discovered by Thomas Wharton in 1656 but its physiological role remained unclear until the late 19th century. With improving surgical and antiseptic techniques, total thyroidectomy was increasingly advocated for the treatment of goitre. As expected “cachexia strumaprivia” was reported and its clinical similarity to endemic cretinism noted. It had always been believed that there was a common cause for endemic goitre and cretinism, as both conditions were found side by side, but it was not suspected that there was a causal connection (2).


Congenital Hypothyroidism Endemic Goitre Thyroid Autoantibody Thyroid Antibody Iodine Deficiency Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Boyages
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jan Willem Lens
    • 1
    • 2
  • Reindert D. van der Gaag
    • 1
    • 2
  • Glen F. Maberly
    • 2
  • Creswell J. Eastman
    • 2
  • Hemmo A. Drexhage
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory for Clinical Immunology, Department of PathologyFree University HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Endocrine Unit, Department of MedicineWestmead HospitalSydneyAustralia

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