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%.
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.
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.
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 preganncy.