The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism. Thyroid disorders in pregnancy can be a particular concern because pregnancy-related hormones can affect thyroid hormones. Untreated thyroid disorders in pregnancy increase the risk of pregnancy complications. It may cause harm to the developing fetus.
Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of
. The immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes of hypothyroidism in pregnancy include the following:
Inadequate treatment of pre-existing hypothyroidism
Overtreatment of hyperthyroidism with antithyroid medications
Increased estrogen levels (causes circulating thyroid hormone to become inactive)
Graves’ disease is characterized by overactivity of the thyroid. It is the most common cause of
. Another cause of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is very high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
However, such cases usually resolve spontaneously.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of having thyroid disorders in pregnancy. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
If you experience any of these symptoms during pregnancy, do not assume it is due to a thyroid disorder. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. Many people with thyroid disorders have no symptoms at all. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
To decrease the risk of hypothyroidism, mild hyperthyroidism during pregnancy is often monitored closely without therapy. Antithyroid drug therapy (
) is used to treat more severe hyperthyroidism. Propylthiouracil is usually chosen, since it may not pass over the placenta as much. Medicine that passes over the placenta can effect the developing fetus.
If antithyroid medications do not work, surgical removal of your thyroid gland may be performed. It is very rarely recommended during pregnancy. Treatment with radioiodine that destroys the thyroid gland, is contraindicated during pregnancy because of risk to the fetus.
Hormones associated with pregnancy can cause changes in thyroid hormone levels. Therefore, your medication needs may fluctuate widely during pregnancy. Your doctor will likely check your blood levels of thyroid hormone every 6-8 weeks during pregnancy, and four weeks after your medication dose is changed.
There are no known guidelines for preventing thyroid disorders in pregnancy. However, if you think you are at risk for this disease, talk to your doctor about setting up an appropriate schedule of check-ups.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a