Hypothyroidism and PregnancyHypothyroidism during pregnancy can be a common problem since hypothyroidism often affects women during child bearing age. In fact studies have found that 2.5% of women experience hypothyroidism during pregnancy. It is possible to still have a successful pregnancy if you have hypothyroidism, as long as it is closely monitored and treated by a doctor.
Risk Factors Of Hypothyroidism During PregnancyThe most common cause worldwide of hypothyroidism during pregnancy is iodine deficiency. In countries where iodine rich foods are plentiful, however, the most common cause is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
The main risk factors for hypothyroidism are past thyroid problems, a history of hypothyroidism in your family and autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes. The main signs are goiter and seeing symptoms of hypothyroidism such as:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Menstrual irregularities
- Brittle fingernails or hair
- Pale skin
- Dry, itchy skin
- Puffy skin
- Hoarse voice
- Cold sensitivity
- Impaired mental function
If you are pregnant and these risk factors apply to you or you notice any of these signs then you should see your doctor for a hypothyroidism test as soon as possible.
Screening For Hypothyroidism During PregnancyIf you become pregnant and have any suspicions that you could have hypothyroidism you should see a doctor immediately. Even if you do not think you have hypothyroidism but could be at risk of developing it you should see a doctor. Many experts recommend that all women who become pregnant or are planning pregnancy should be screened for hypothyroidism. This is wise since mild hypothyroidism might not show any noticeable symptoms but can still affect the baby. Your doctor will perform a blood test to check your levels of TSH, and possible also T3 and T4 hormones.
If you are already on medication for hypothyroidism and become pregnant you should see your doctor for testing. This is because your level of thyroid hormones changes a lot during pregnancy and so your current levels of medication will probably need to be increased.
Also if you have hypothyroidism and are planning pregnancy then it's important to see a doctor before you become pregnant. This is so that you can regulate your hypothyroidism before pregnancy begins.
Potential Effects Of Hypothyroidism On BabyDuring the first twelve weeks of pregnancy the baby does not have a functioning thyroid gland. This means he must rely on his mother for his thyroid hormones. So if you have hypothyroidism it can greatly affect your baby. In fact it could be affecting your baby before you even realise you are pregnant. Even if you then later get treatment for your hypothyroidism, the effects from the early stages can stay with your baby.
Studies have found that babies whose mothers had hypothyroidism may have developmental problems. This can translate to intellectual impairment and trouble learning in school. A 1999 study found that the average IQ's of babies with inadequately treated hypothyroid mothers were four points lower than normal babies. For mothers who had severe hypothyroidism, their babies' IQ's were seven points lower on average. Besides intellectual development, babies' motor skills can also be decreased.
Other problems that hypothyroidism during pregnancy can cause include miscarriage, stillbirth, fetal abnormalities, premature birth and low birth weight.
Potential Effects Of Hypothyroidism On MotherSevere hypothyroidism which is left untreated can cause serious problems for mothers such as anemia (low red blood cells), pre-eclampsia, post-birth hemorrhage (bleeding), placental abruption, myopathy (muscle weakness and pain) and heart failure.
Treatment For Hypothyroidism During PregnancyIf you have hypothyroidism while you are pregnant it's important that you get treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will treat hypothyroidism by regularly monitoring your thyroid hormone levels through blood testing and by giving you synthetic T4 medication to replace missing T4 hormone. The goal is to keep the thyroid hormones in the high end of the normal range while you are pregnant.
The level of T4 medication will probably need to be adusted during your pregnancy since thyroid hormones may fluctuate. Often more hormone replacement will be needed as you get further into the pregnancy. This is why continual monitoring of thyroid function and hormones is important.