Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy
Hypothyroidism is a condition that may in some women develop during or after their pregnancy. In some cases it can adversely affect existing sufferers with respect to their ability to conceive.
For women who currently have diabetes, their chance of developing Hypothyroidism after their pregnancy is increased by 25%.
Pregnancy is a stress test for the thyroid.
- The size of thyroid increases by 10%.
- Production of T3 and T4 hormones increases by 50%.
- As a result, the normal TSH level during pregnancy is lower.
Hypothyroidism has been tentatively linked with increased frequency of miscarriage. Health physicians sometimes suspect a miscarriage as an indicator that prior to the pregnancy, anti-thyroid antibodies were present. This is not to suggest the antibodies were the direct cause of the miscarriage rather they correlate with immune system issues that can result in loss of the fetus.
How Hypothyroidism Can Affect Pregnancy
Hypothyroidism can affect pregnancy in a number of different ways:
- It may contribute to infertility in women because as it can impede the release of ovum
- A pregnant women suffering from Hypothyroidism is at increased risk of miscarriage
- Increased risk during labour of developing high blood pressure / premature delivery
- Potential adverse affects on newborn babies with respect to the intellectual development
Untreated hypothyroidism can result in serious problems for an unborn child. It is highly recommended that all pregnant women be tested for thyroid function during the pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism Resulting From Pregnancy
Approximately 5% of women will experience Hypothyroidism after their pregnancy. This is primarily due to the development of Thyroid antibodies during the pregnancy. After delivery, the antibodies attack the Thyroid creating inflammation – affecting it’s functionality.
Pregnancy induce Hypothyroidism is a serious condition. Yet it often is successfully treated using natural means. Many pregnant women opt for naturally based treatments because of the potential for unwanted side effects on their unborn child from harsh drugs. Naturally bases, drug free treatments offer an alternative to the potentially dangerous drugs sometimes prescribed.
Investigating further into the potential benefits of natural drug free treatment options is perhaps something worth considering for women who are pregnant or currently suffering with Hypothyroidism and want to become pregnant.
Confusion regarding thyroid function test results during pregnancy may arise because these results will vary depending on how far along women are in their pregnancies. Thyroid function test results, such as TSH and thyroid hormone (T4 and T3) levels, will fluctuate during normal pregnancies. These levels may go up and down and, yet, remain in the normal range for pregnant women. When pregnant women say that their hormones are bouncing all over the map, they are only scratching the surface of the problem.
Several factors contribute to these fluctuations, including estrogens and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Beginning in the early stages of pregnancy, estrogens cause an increase in thyroid hormone-binding proteins, which remain elevated until a few months after delivery. These increased thyroid hormone-binding proteins may cause a 10% to 15% decrease in free T4 and T3, even though they are usually within the normal range for pregnant women. Correspondingly, the TSH rises slightly between the first trimester and delivery.
During the first eight to fourteen weeks of pregnancy, hCG, a hormone produced by the placenta, rises significantly. If hCG rises sufficiently, it can mimic, to a mild degree, the function of TSH. Therefore, hCG can sometimes raise free T4 and T3 levels. Although the free T4 and T3 levels are still in the normal range, they may be sufficiently elevated to lower TSH levels during the first eight to fourteen weeks of pregnancy in up to 20% of pregnancies. These women have transient subclinical hyperthyroidism. In a much smaller percentage of normal pregnancies, the effects of hCG can be so pronounced during this six-week period that free T4 may be temporarily elevated out of the normal range for pregnant women. These laboratory findings (an elevated free T4 and a low TSH) are sometimes referred to as gestational transient hyperthyroidism, estational thyrotoxicosis, or gestational hyperyroximenmia.
Your Thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate body temperature, weight gain, digestive system, brain functions and bone management. So now, knowing this it is easy to see how this also relates to your unborn child as what affects also affects the baby.
Now, any of these symptoms may be caused by the normal hormone changes that occur during pregnancy, so it can easily be masked or shrugged off by the mother or those around her as just normal pregnancy growing pains or the nervousness of a new mom. This makes it all the more important to be vigilant to protect your baby’s health and future.
Hypothyroidism can have serious consequences for your unborn baby.
It is well documented and researched that there is often a developmental delay in the child after birth.
There is a relationship between thyroid levels in the mother and brain development of her child. The brain development of the unborn child is impacted by the thyroid levels in the mother during pregnancy. This quote illustrates the relationship findings …
A large study reported in 1999 found that undetected or inadequately treated hypothyroidism in mothers was associated with IQ changes in the infants of these women. The average IQ scores were about 4 points lower in the children of hypothyroid mothers than in children of normal mothers. Larger IQ deficits were seen in the children of mothers who had more severe hypothyroidism. These children had an average IQ 7 points lower than normal. In addition, almost 20% of these children had IQ scores of less than 85 compared to 5% of the children of normal mothers. The children of hypothyroid mothers were also more likely to have difficulty in school or have repeated grades.
Taken from http://www.medicinenet.com/hypothyroidism_during_pregnancy
Testing for Thyroid Hormone, TSH and Iodine Levels is Important!
Pregnancy and hypothyroidism involves not just one person but two; the mother and her unborn child. Pregnant women with hypothyroidism that is undiagnosed or left untreated during pregnancy risk the following:
- Abnormal fetal development
- Possible postnatal developmental delays
- Higher incidence of stillbirth
- Higher risk of premature labor
- Children with a higher incidence of learning disabilities
It is essential that if symptoms associated with pregnancy and hypothyroidism is being observed. Every pregnant woman should be tested for Thyroid hormone levels as well as for TSH levels. Iodine levels shouldn’t be ignored either. In some parts of the world a condition where the thyroid gland becomes so enlarged that it is visible as large lump protruding from the neck. This is called endemic goiter. Hypothyroidism is one of the complications of goiter. Even when the enlarged thyroid gland hasn’t reached the stage of visibility it can be affecting the whole body. When the diet of a pregnant woman contains insufficient levels of iodine and she is suffering from this disease her baby will be at risk. Infants are likely to be born with a condition known as congenital hypothyroidism and will have physical growth deficits and well as impaired brain development. Testing of a pregnant woman who is suspected of having hypothyroidism, goiter or both is obviously imperative.
Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy
Women need approximately 45% more T4 during pregnancy to maintain a normal TSH level. However, the thyroid gland of a hypothyroid pregnant woman may not adequately increase production of these thyroid hormones. Therefore, even if she is taking levothyroxine, her TSH level may rise out of the normal range, indicating subclinical hypothyroidism.
In order to prevent even mild hypothyroidism during pregnancy, a hypothyroid woman should have her TSH checked shortly before she becomes pregnant and, then again, within six weeks of conception. Her TSH should then be rechecked approximately every six weeks during the remainder of her pregnancy. It is not unusual for the dosage of levothyroxine to increase early in the pregnancy and then change several times before delivery. Once a pregnant woman delivers, her TSH should be rechecked three to four months later.
Women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are predisposed to problems during pregnancy. For unknown reasons, women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are at higher risk of miscarriage than women without it.
You just found out you are pregnant and have a lot of questions about pregnancy and hypothyroidism. If you are currently taking a thyroid stimulating hormone no doubt you are wondering about the effect this will have on your baby during your pregnancy. First, let’s have a look at what hypothyroidism means in general.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism your thyroid is not producing an adequate amount of thyroid hormone. People with hypothyroidism often discover their condition because they see their family physicians complaining of chronic tiredness and fatigue. The tiredness that comes from an underactive thyroid is not the type that is easily dealt with by having an afternoon nap. People with hypothyroidism have a bone-weary type of fatigue-weary amount of sleep will fix.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Pregnancy
Pregnancy and hypothyroidism concern are reality-based. The thyroid gland needs to expand its way of functioning during pregnancy to meet both the needs of the mother and the developing fetus. Some have described Pregnancy as a “stress test” for thyroid and if hypothyroidism it isn’t a condition at the beginning of a pregnancy it can develop during pregnancy for women who have limited iodine reserve and low functioning thyroids to begin with. All pregnant women should stay in regular contact with a health care delivery team throughout their pregnancy and women who know they have hypothyroid issues should be closely monitored.
Vitamin Supplements and Thyroid Medication
Pregnant women are often counseled to take a prenatal multivitamin with iron as soon as they discover they are pregnant. For those dealing with pregnancy and hypothyroidism it is important to know that iron can interfere with the body’s absorption of thyroid hormone causing a deficit of this important hormone in the body. There is an easy solution, but it requires some fore-planning. Thyroid medications need to be taken on an empty stomach if possible. There should also be at least a two-hour time lapse between taking the thyroid hormone medication and the iron containing supplement. It can be a bit tricky to get the timing right but with planning all is possible.
A Healthy Pregnancy is Possible! Many women with hypothyroidism and pregnancy issues have healthy pregnancies and perfectly healthy babies.
Is it OK to take thyroid medication during pregnancy?
Yes, it’s safe and recommended. In fact, it’s unsafe not to take thyroid medication during pregnancy when you need it. It doesn’t matter if you have an underactive thyroid – hypothyroidism or the much less common hyperthyroidism – an overactive thyroid. The most important thing is to take medication and be closely monitored during your pregnancy.
Diet during pregnancy
Pregnancy and Hypothyroidism together give two great reasons to pay attention to the food you are choosing to eat. Because an underactive thyroid can leave you feeling exhausted eating foods high in vitamin B will help give you a much-needed energy boost. Foods such as; spinach, fortified cereals, whole wheat pasta are a great source of B vitamins. As well grains like Quinoa and brown rice are full of B vitamins.
The fiber in the form of fresh vegetables, fruit, and delicious whole grains will help regulate your bowels and offset the sometimes constipating effects of the sluggish metabolism associated with hypothyroidism. Getting plenty of protein will make you less likely to overeat and you will be better able to avoid the weight gain that is often one of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Be sure to include fish, chicken, lean meats and low-fat dairy products in your diet.
Foods to avoid:
There are some foods that can interfere with thyroid hormones so they should be excluded from your diet. The foods to avoid are: kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, peanuts and millet. Fiber can block the way thyroid medications are absorbed so paying attention to when you eat is also important. Medications are best taken on an empty stomach so planning mealtimes and snacks with this in mind, is important.