2018 Volume 65 Issue 5 Pages 587-592
Maternal Graves’ disease (GD) during pregnancy may influence thyroid function in fetuses. Neonates born to mothers with high serum TSH receptor antibody (TRAb) levels have been reported to develop ‘neonatal GD’. Therefore, evaluations of serum thyroid hormone and TRAb levels in neonates upon birth are crucial for a prompt diagnosis. At delivery, we measured TRAb with third-generation TRAb test using an M22 human monoclonal antibody in neonates by collecting umbilical cord blood in a blood collection tube with lithium-heparin, which provides a whole blood/plasma sample. In recent years, we have encountered positive TRAb levels (more than 2.0 IU/L) in nineteen neonates born to mothers with GD whose thyroid hormone levels were almost within the reference range and serum TRAb levels were less than 10 IU/L. All the neonates with positive TRAb levels did not exhibit thyrotoxicosis. However, when we measured TRAb levels with serum sample in six out of the nineteen cases, their serum TRAb levels were all negative, suggesting a discrepancy of TRAb levels between in lithium-heparin plasma from umbilical cord blood and serum. Moreover, this discrepancy was observed in neonates born to euthyroid mothers, adult active GD patients and healthy volunteers. Since lithium-heparin plasma from umbilical cord blood is widely used in laboratory tests at delivery, we may encounter ‘false-positive’ TRAb, which may, in turn, lead to a misdiagnosis of neonatal GD. This is a pitfall of third-generation TRAb measurements in neonates, particularly at delivery, and needs to be considered by obstetricians and neonatologists.