source: University of Rochester Medical Center
What is Graves Disease in a Newborn?
Graves disease is an autoimmune disease. The immune system normally protects the body from germs with chemicals called antibodies. But with an autoimmune disease, it makes antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues. With Graves disease, antibodies cause the thyroid gland to make too much thyroid hormone. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Extra thyroid hormone in the bloodstream leads to the body’s metabolism being too active. It can cause problems such as low weight, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
Graves disease occurs more often in children than in newborns. But it can also occur in newborn babies. If not diagnosed shortly after birth, Graves disease can be fatal to a newborn baby.
What Causes Graves Disease in a Newborn?
Graves disease in a newborn occurs when the mother has or had Graves disease. The mother’s antibodies can cross the placenta and affect the thyroid gland in the growing baby. Graves disease in a pregnant woman can result in stillbirth, miscarriage, or preterm birth.