Hypothyroidism during pregnancy can impact your health but your future child’s health even more.
In today’s society, it is important to have a basic understanding of thyroid disease and how much it can affect us because it is so prevalent, yet so under-diagnosed and misunderstood. The thyroid being the energy and metabolism gland, it can hurt our will to perform daily tasks, give us anxiety, make us gain unnecessary weight and feel sluggish and down. Of course, the list goes on… This is especially true given the nutritionally poor American diet, the underestimated and high amount of environmental contaminants and pollutants surrounding us, the lack of quality sleep, and of course lack of consistent exercise…
Why you should be concerned if pregnant
If you are pregnant, there is a good chance you have some sort of thyroid disorder. Thyroid disease is fairly common among pregnant females, with hypothyroidism occurring in 2-3% of pregnant females and hyperthyroidism occurring in 0.5% of pregnant females. On top of that, thyroid autoimmunity is associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery and miscarriage (1).
You are probably thinking “Yes, but I had my thyroid tested a few years ago and it was fine.” Well, first of all, if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but it’s in stage 1, you probably won’t be able to tell and your doctor may not even give it any attention. Secondly, normal thyroid tests at one point in time by no means guarantee normal test results in the future as these can fluctuate. Moreover, if you are pregnant, your hypermetabolic state is very likely masking the hypothyroidism symptoms you may be suffering from.
So what it the link between hypothyroidism during pregnancy and your baby’s health outcome? For the first twelve weeks of gestation, the fetus relies on the mother’s thyroid to supply it with thyroid hormones that are necessary for its overall development (including brain development!). In hypothyroid mothers, there is a higher risk of spontaneous miscarriage, child death right before or after birth, and fetal distress due to lack of oxygen. There is also a higher frequency of infants born with lower than average weights according to Endocrine Reviews (2)(3). Other symptoms may include placenta disruption and post-birth internal bleeding (4). Research has also demonstrated that children born from hypothyroid mothers who were not treated throughout their pregnancy had a significantly lower average of IQ points compared to children born from pregnant mothers with normal thyroid levels (5). Similar results were observed in mothers with subclinical hypothyroidism, especially with respect to fetus death and pregnancy loss, although no significant difference in average IQ points was observed between sub-clinical hypothyroid and healthy mothers.
I’m pregnant or planning on becoming so: What should I do?
Now that you know the link between hypothyroidism during pregnancy and your future baby’s health, what should you do? If you are pregnant, regardless of whether you feel healthy or not, you would highly benefit from asking your doctor to perform a thyroid screening. If you are found to be hypothyroid, it is crucial to start a Levothyroxine medication treatment as soon as possible. One study from the journal Thyroid found that thyroid hormone treatment reduced the fetus death incidence from 31% in inadequately treated mothers to 4% in adequately treated mothers (6). Overall, thyroid hormone treatment, whether T3 or T4/T3 combination therapy in the right form and amounts, is the most effective treatment for eliminating the negative symptoms the fetus/child suffers from when carried by a hypothyroid mother, however it should be done as soon as possible to reduce the risk of irreversible complications for your future child…
In addition, for optimal health of the mother and fetus’ thyroid gland and immune system, pick a comprehensive, well-balanced, pre-natal vitamin supplement such as ThyroNatal, formulated by Dr. Arem himself.
1. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Dec; 25(6):927-43.; Thyroid disease in pregnancy.; Negro R, Mestman JH
2. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Aug; 92(8 Suppl):S1-47.; Management of thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy and postpartum: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.; Abalovich M, Amino N, Barbour LA, Cobin RH, De Groot LJ, Glinoer D, Mandel SJ, Stagnaro-Green A
3. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Aug; 73(2):421-7.; Pregnancy in patients with mild thyroid abnormalities: maternal and neonatal repercussions.; Glinoer D, Soto MF, Bourdoux P, Lejeune B, Delange F, Lemone M, Kinthaert J, Robijn C, Grun JP, de Nayer P
4. Endocr Rev. 2010 Oct; 31(5):702-55.; Thyroid function and human reproductive health.; Krassas GE, Poppe K, Glinoer D
5. N Engl J Med. 1999 Aug 19; 341(8):549-55.; Maternal thyroid deficiency during pregnancy and subsequent neuropsychological development of the child.; Haddow JE, Palomaki GE, Allan WC, Williams JR, Knight GJ, Gagnon J, O’Heir CE, Mitchell ML, Hermos RJ, Waisbren SE, Faix JD, Klein RZ
6. Abalovich M, Gutierrez S, Alcaraz G, et al. Overt and subclinical hypothyroidism complicating pregnancy. Thyroid. 2002;12:63–68