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Thyroid Problems and Pregnancy


The thyroid is a gland located in the neck. The thyroid gland produces hormones which help to control temperature, growth, behavior, blood pressure and heart rate. The thyroid gland can become too active ( hyperthyroidism ) or not active enough ( hypothyroidism ). Treatments for problems with the thyroid include medication, surgery or radiation.

Thyroid Problems and Pregnancy

Pregnant women and their unborn children generally tolerate mild and moderate thyroid disorders without significant health problems. Infertility is common with severe thyroid disorders. Some treatments for thyroid disease cannot be used in pregnancy because of risk of harm to the developing foetus.
Inadequately controlled hypothyroidism in pregnant women is associated with mental retardation and learning difficulties in children. Some forms of hyperthyroidism put a foetus at risk of growing slowly and being at risk for stillbirth . Treatment for hyperthyroidism needs to be monitored carefully to decrease the risk of the foetus developing hypothyroidism .

Metabolism changes in pregnancy sometimes cause a need to change the dose of thyroid medications. The blood tests used to evaluate thyroid function normally change during a pregnancy and need special interpretations. Some thyroid problems can get worse in the postpartum period .

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine & Prenatal Diagnosis:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 21 2004