Dr. Lazarus explains if pregnant women can safely treat their overactive thyroid glands.
If a woman has an overactive thyroid in pregnancy, it's usually due to Graves' disease. It is quite safely managed with anti-thyroid drugs. The best drug to have is propylthyouracil and that can be taken quite safely during pregnancy. Risk of side effects is very low and it doesn’t harm the baby. However, it should be carefully monitored through the pregnancy.
Some people stop the propylthyouracil before labor; some people carry it on right through labor because we don’t want the woman to be overactive during labor. Now there has been concern about whether breastfeeding is appropriate because that drug does get into the breast milk.
Normally, with propylthyouracil, breastfeeding is quite safe because the amount that gets in is quite small although it does get across to the baby. So, there shouldn’t be any problem normally with breastfeeding if the woman wants to do that.
About Dr. Lazarus, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.A.C.E.:
Dr. John Lazarus is a clinical professor of clinical endocrinology at Cardiff University at Cardiff School of Medicine in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom at the Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences. The Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences (CEDS) aims to undertake cutting edge laboratory-based and clinical research in the fields of endocrinology and diabetes.
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American Thyroid Association