I think all young people who have one or more parents who have thyroid disease ought to have baseline thyroid hormone testing when they are 18 years of age (and possibly even younger).
The baseline tests I am thinking of are TSH, FT4, FT3, TPO and Tg autoantibodies and rT3 (if you can get it tested).
Thyroid disease and thyroid hormone issues often have a genetic aspect and run in families.
Often the genetic connections that are present mean the condition develops in an adult in their late twenties or thirties.
Knowing the values of thyroid hormones for young, healthy adults would really save a huge amount of time, effort, stress and cost later on if the individual developed a thyroid issue.
Lab test population ranges are too wide to assume that any result within them is normal. I know this is what doctors do. But research has shown that simply having thyroid lab results somewhere within the laboratory reference range does not guarantee that the person is healthy and has no hypothyroid symptoms. We know that ‘individual person ranges’ are narrower than the large population ranges.
I am proposing the routine testing of young adults with a full thyroid panel (including FT3) if either parent or grandparent has any history of thyroid problems.
I asked some thyroid patients what they thought about this.
This is what I heard back:
“Yes, I am planning on having all of my children having a baseline done. My baselines have proved invaluable now, I can look back and see how my thyroid functioned on its own over 20 years ago before Hashis set in.”
“I wish I’d had mine all the years that I fought with the doctors about my poor response on T4. It may have saved me years of poor treatment.”
“Oh, and I found out that around 15 years ago they did some thyroid tests but the hospital letter just says normal with no numbers. Not one of the doctors I have seen have even referred to it and I only found it by accident when reviewing my notes.”
“I’m assuming that if you had a baseline when in good health, the differences would at least be obvious and it would make the argument for more or different treatment easier.”
“Yes, I think it’s great!”
“Unfortunately, this makes way too much logical sense for the medical community to adopt into practice. So, therefore, it will never happen…lol.”
“Definitely! all 3 of my children are showing signs of hypo, I’ve made sure they’ve had tests since being around 13 xxx”
“Oh dear! I have had my two daughters tested. Neither has hypothyroidism but my eldest has put on weight inexplicably and is always tired, always has something wrong, has a very short fuse. I wonder sometimes…”
“I hadn’t thought of this but it sounds like fine advice. Thanks!”
“I think that sounds like a great idea.”
“My daughter was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s aged 17 – I just knew she had it but they wouldn’t believe me – they did a thyroid function test and tested antibodies when she was younger, which showed her TPO as 30 and I knew they would rise. They were 400 last count! My youngest aged 13 also had a test at my insistence. Her TPO is 28 – let us just wait and see – I can tell by personality alone!”
“My daughter is moving to Chicago and I plan on getting her started with a doctor there. It is obvious that it can happen in younger children as well. I feel good that I have resources to go to for information. When I first was diagnosed I felt so alone. It can be very difficult.”
“It seems like a lot of people develop thyroid disease at an earlier age than 18, so wouldn’t it make sense to start the testing process sooner? Would it be reasonable to start getting tests at an earlier age to establish a baseline?”
“Definitely at 18 would’ve worked for me. However, my kids around age 8 -10 were bad, 14-16 were bad and still continue at 20, 21. Still working on getting myself sorted and with knowledge comes the awful truth about what has ailed my kids most of their life with different illnesses/symptoms and poor treatment for conditions that “don’t exist” or are “normal”.”
Clearly, my question struck a chord with them. I think doing this type of baseline testing would be very helpful.
(Updated in January 2019)