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. But it can also occur in newborn babies. If not diagnosed shortly after birth, Graves disease can be fatal to a newborn baby.
Signs can occur a bit differently in each baby. They can include:
The signs of Graves disease can be like other health conditions. Make sure your baby sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
With treatment right away, babies usually recover fully within a few weeks. But Graves disease may recur during the first 6 months to 1 year of life. The goal of treatment is to restore the thyroid gland to normal function so it makes normal levels of thyroid hormone.
Treatment may include:
Untreated Graves disease in a newborn can be fatal. It can also cause: