Hypothyroidism during pregnancy

Neck | Endocrinology and Metabolism | Hypothyroidism during pregnancy (Disease)


Disease of the thyroid gland is extremely common. In some conditions, the thyroid may produce too much hormone. In other conditions, the thyroid may be damaged or destroyed and little, if any, thyroid hormone is produced. The main thyroid hormone is called thyroxine, or T4. It is estimated that 2. 5% of all pregnant women have some degree of hypothyroidism. The frequency varies among different populations and different countries. While pregnancy itself is a natural state, and by no means should be considered a disease, thyroid disorders during pregnancy may affect both mother and baby.

Symptoms vary depending on whether there is too much or too little T4 in the blood. With an excess of T4 (hyperthyroidism), patients complain of feeling restless, emotionally hyper, and hot and sweaty. They may have tremors, trouble concentrating, and weight loss. Frequent bowel movements and diarrhea are common.

Causes and Risk factors

If T4 levels are low (hypothyroidism) as a result of decreased production by the thyroid gland, patients often notice fatigue, lethargy, and weight gain. Constipation is common and many patients with hypothyroidism report feeling excessively cold.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The treatment consists of a synthetic form of T4 that is given to replace the missing hormone. The dose of the medication is regularly adjusted to maintain a steady blood level of thyroid hormone within the normal range. Therefore, it is routine practice to monitor the blood level of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) while monitoring hypothyroidism during pregnancy. In many respects, the treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy is similar to that in nonpregnant women. ...

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