Background: Hypoparathyroidism is well known to occur in thalassemia major patients, but it is thought to be uncommon and its incidence is considered to be decreasing with improvements in chelation therapy. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of parathyroid dysfunction in the first decade of life of the patients with thalassemia major.
Patients and Methods: Ninety children with beta-thalassemia major (55 males and 35 females) with a mean age of 7.17±3.78 years (1-13 years) and age and sex matched control group of 60 healthy children (36 males and 24 females) with a mean age 6.98±3.66 years (1-13) years. Serum parathyroid hormone (PTH), serum total Calcium (Ca), serum phosphorus (P), serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP), serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and serum ferritin levels were measured.
Result: PTH levels were higher than normal range in 23 (25.6%) patients with a mean value of 75.2±31.3 µg/mL compared to those having normal range level (35.3±15.2 µg/mL). Ca levels were found low in 11 patients (12.2%), and P levels were found high in 2 (2.22%) and low in 4 (4.44%) patients while high ALP levels were found in 6 (6.67%) patients. 25-OHD levels were low in all patients with a mean value of 24.95±5.82.
Conclusion: Reports in the literature indicate that parathyroid dysfunction due to iron overload generally occurs in 2nd or 3rd decade of patients with thalassemia major. However, our study shows that PTH due to iron overload may develop in a significant number of thalassemia major patients, therefore, all thalassemics should be carefully watched for endocrine organ function such as hyperparathyroidism might occur even in the first decade of the patients with thalassemia major.