‘Heel test’ saved my son from brain damage

RELIEVED Connie Tull with son Mason who was born without thyroid glands.  Picture: Malcolm Wells (120418-8662)

RELIEVED Connie Tull with son Mason who was born without thyroid glands. Picture: Malcolm Wells (120418-8662)

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CRADLING her 10-week-old baby boy, Connie Tull is grateful a routine test picked a condition that would have left her son brain damaged.

Mason was born at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, last December, with no thyroid glands.

At five days old he had the Guthrie test – more commonly known as the ‘heel prick’ test.

It tests for five conditions that, if caught soon enough, can be treated to give the baby a better quality of life.

Connie, 24, of Hawthorn Crescent, Cosham, said: ‘I noticed Mason was a very sleepy baby and he couldn’t go to the toilet either.

‘I was going to take him to the doctor, but a week after his heel prick I got a call from the hospital.’

The test found Mason was born without any thyroid glands, which control how quickly the body uses energy and makes proteins.

‘When I was told I was really shocked,’ added nursery teacher Connie.

‘They put him on tablets straight away and that’s what saved him.

‘As soon as he started taking tablets he became much livelier.

‘He will be on tablets for the rest of his life, but this means he will now be able to lead a normal life.

‘At worse he could have dyslexia and lack of concentration, but it’s much better than being brain damaged.’

Each year 40,000 babies are tested at the hospital.

Samples come from the Portsmouth area, near Southampton, up to Liss and even from naval families living abroad.

Dr David Sinclair, head of sciences, said: ‘About one in 4,000 babies are born without thyroid glands.

‘The longer it’s undiagnosed, the worse the prognosis is.’

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