Hypothyroidism during Pregnancy

Thyroid disease

Various forms of thyroid disease are common in women of child bearing age, and particularly while a woman is pregnant. Symptoms of either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism disease may be present and exacerbated by the hormonal increase produced during pregnancy. Both forms of thyroid disease may be present following pregnancy, first one and then the other (sequentially).

Postpartum thyroid disease

Approximately five percent of women who have hypothyroidism pregnancy may be affected within one year post partum (after giving birth). This is also known as postpartum thyroid disease and about one in five women who have experienced hypothyroidism post partum will develop the disease on a permanent basis and require treatment for the remainder of their life.

As this condition is mainly due to over active hormones and thyroid activity, hyperthyroidism is generally the first phase to be seen. The symptoms of postpartum thyroid disease usually dissipate after childbirth and are considered to be a resolving thyroiditis or thyroid disease.

A common phenomenon of hypothyroidism and pregnancy is the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is the result of swelling of the tenysynovium (a thin tissue covering tendons in the wrist).

Thyroid disease or specifically hypothyroidism disease is very common in women of child bearing age and results in complications during pregnancy in some instances. Approximately two and a half percent of women who become pregnant are affected by hypothyroidism.

The Thyroid gland

Weighing in at about one half pound or fifteen grams, the thyroid gland can be found just beneath the Adam’s apple or cricoid cartilage at the front of ones neck. This very important gland has the responsibility of producing thyroid hormone for the body. The brain signals the gland to produce more or less of this vital hormone according to what is required at any given time. These signals are sent via the pituitary and hypothalamus, which are specialized areas in the human brain. This signal tells the thyroid gland to produce TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone, which in turn, promotes the production of thyroid hormones.

Disease of the Thyroid gland

Unfortunately, thyroid gland disease is very common and results in either production of too much hormone or too little. Either way, there are complications as a result. Thyroid hormone, called thyroxine (T4) may be in short supply or even missing if the thyroid gland has been destroyed or damaged. Too much T4 (hyperthyroidism) results in patients being emotionally hyper, they may feel restless, also hot and sweaty. They may lose weight and have frequent bowel movements. On the other hand, low levels of T4 may produce lethargy, weight gain, fatigue, and constipation. They may also feel extremely cold most of the time.

How can hypothyroidism disease be treated while pregnant?

Special care must be taken whenever a woman is pregnant but the treatment of hypothyroidism is pretty much straight forward. Synthetic T4 (thyroxine) is given as a replacement to the hormone that is missing and close tabs are kept on the woman in case an adjustment must be made in the dosage.

Consequences of hypothyroid disease while pregnant

Some medical experts think an iodine deficiency is to blame for much of the thyroid gland problems. There is some evidence that developmental delay may be the result of hypothyroidism pregnancy or the mother’s hypothyroidism while pregnant.