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Thyroid Disease during Pregnancy

The production of thyroid hormone starts in the hypothalamus that releases thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), that moves to the pituitary glands where it releases the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and the thyroid gland releases two hormones: L-thyroxine and triiodothyronine.

Thyroid is important for the development of the brain of the fetus and in the first trimester, the fetus is completely dependent on the thyroid hormone supplied by the mother’s system. The body requires adequate amount of iodine to release the two hormones. Mother may need more iodine i.e. 250 micrograms per day, to produce hormones from the glands and after ten to twelve weeks, the baby may start producing its own thyroid.

Thyroid glands produce thyroid hormone in the body, which runs in the blood and works as communicator. It regulates the metabolism and it is required for the growth of the body. There are two types of defects associated to the thyroid glands: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, and these are a rare form of disorders found in pregnant women.


Hypothyroidism refers to the condition, when a woman has less than required thyroid hormone in the blood stream. It is a rare condition but it can cause infertility in women. Women suffering from hypothyroidism are at a high risk of delivering premature babies and babies born to such mothers may not have complete intellectual growth.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism in pregnant women are

1. Fatigue
2. Weight gain
3. Tingling feeling in the hand and feet
4. Numbness
5. Inability to tolerate cold

Risk of Hypothyroidism

1. Hypothyroidism can cause retarded growth of the fetus
2. The mother-to-be may suffer from anemia or placenta abruption
3. It can cause stillbirth in pregnant women
4. Miscarriage
5. Preterm labor

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

It is treated by providing synthetic thyroxin to the pregnant women.


It refers to the condition, in which, the thyroid gland produces an abnormally high level of thyroid hormone into the blood. It generally is caused by Graves’ disease that is an autoimmune disorder in which the antibodies of the body act on the cells of the body and destroy it.

Women suffering from Graves' disease in the first trimester may see their condition improving during the next two trimesters.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

1. Vomiting, increase in blood pressure
2. Weight loss
3. Increases heart rate
4. Inability to tolerate heat
5. Dehydration

Risks of Hyperthyroidism

1. Hyperthyroidism can cause maternal complications.
2. It can cause tachycardia or heart problems.
3. It can cause premature birth and reduced birth weight of the unborn baby.

Treatment of Hyperthyroidism

Medicines are taken to block the release of excess hormone in case of hyperthyroidism and other methods of treatment are radioactive method and scanning, but treatment through radioactive iodine or thyroid scan is avoided in pregnancy because it can harm the unborn baby.

Postpartum Thyroid Disease

Women, who are pregnant, may suffer from postpartum thyroid disease, which is also linked to miscarriage. Women who are suffering from Type 1 diabetes are at a high risk of developing postpartum thyroid disease and it may happen even after the birth of the baby.

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