Neuroendocrine dysfunction is a common consequence that can progress from
several months to years after a
traumatic brain injury
(TBI). A TBI sustained in childhood is often associated with disorders
such as hypopituitarism and abnormalities in thyroid function later in
life. As a result of the time lapse between the injury and a neuroendocrine
diagnosis, it can be difficult to connect a cause and effect between the
two. Past research has shown conflicting results, and it has been difficult
to demonstrate a reliable rate of risk.
A recent study suggests that the incidence of permanent hypopituitarism
following childhood TBI may be overestimated. However, research did show
that some disturbance in pituitary function occurs following TBI, as the
concentration of peripheral thyroid hormones were lower in children with
TBI than they were in children who did not have a TBI. Furthermore, increased
severity of TBI was shown to be associated with lower concentration of
In the long term, individuals who experienced TBI in early childhood may
have lower levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, but they typically remain
within the lower end of a normal range. Changes in thyroid function post-injury
may be less obvious than previous studies have suggested, but still may
reflect minor hypothalamic-pituitary damage that is important to assess.
Source: Heather NL, Derraik JGB, Chiavaroli V, et al. Increasing severity
of traumatic brain injury in early childhood is associated with a progressive
reduction in long-term serum thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations.
Clinical Endocrinology. (March 2016.)