Document Type



Pathology (East Africa)


Background Deriving population specific reference intervals (RIs) or at the very least verifying any RI before adoption is good laboratory practice. Siemens has provided RIs for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4) determined on their Atellica® IM analyzer for all age groups except the neonatal age group which provides a challenge for laboratories that intend to use it to screen for congenital hypothyroidism (CH) and other thyroid disorders in neonates. We set out to determine RIs for TSH and FT4 using data obtained from neonates undergoing routine screening for CH at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya.

Methodology TSH and FT4 data for neonates aged 30 days and below were extracted from the hospital management information system for the period March 2020 to June 2021. A single episode of testing for the same neonate was included provided both TSH and FT4 were done on the same sample. RI determination was performed using a non-parametric approach.

Results A total of 1243 testing episodes from 1218 neonates had both TSH and FT4 results. A single set of test results from each neonate was used to derive RIs. Both TSH and FT4 declined with increase in age with a more marked decline seen in the first 7 days of life. There was a positive correlation between logFT4 and logTSH (rs (1216) = 0.189, p = < 0.001). We derived TSH RIs for the age groups 2–4 days (0.403–7.942 μIU/mL) and 5–7 days (0.418–6.319 μIU/ mL), and sex specific RIs for males (0.609–7.557 μIU/mL) and females (0.420–6.189 μIU/mL) aged 8–30 days. For FT4, separate RIs were derived for the age groups 2–4 days (1.19–2.59 ng/dL), 5–7 days (1.21–2.29 ng/dL) and 8–30 days (1.02–2.01 ng/dL).

Conclusion Our neonatal RIs for TSH and FT4 are different from those published or recommended by Siemens. The RIs will serve as a guide for the interpretation of thyroid function tests in neonates from sub-Saharan Africa where routine screening for congenital hypothyroidism using serum samples is done on the Siemens Atellica® IM analyzer.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Endocrine Disorders

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Pathology Commons