Cordocentesis has permitted the study of fetal thyroid function. In normal pregnancy, fetal blood thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroid hormones and thyroid-binding globulin increase with advancing gestation demonstrating functional maturation of the pituitary, thyroid and liver, respectively. The administration of thyroid-releasing hormone to the mother produces a rapid increase in fetal TSH from at least 25 weeks gestation. In hypoxemic growth-retarded fetuses, the concentrations of TSH are higher, and the concentrations of total and free thyroxine are lower than in appropriately grown fetuses. In anemic fetuses from red cell-isoimmunized pregnancies, serum TSH and thyroid hormone concentrations are increased. In some chromosomally abnormal fetuses, particularly those with trisomy 21, TSH is increased.

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