Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is under active. It fails to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland produces two hormones, known as T4 and T3. These hormones control the rate at which the metabolism works. The metabolism is the system through which the body produces and uses energy. The effects of the thyroid hormones are, therefore, very important during pregnancy, when additional energy is needed for the growth and development of the baby.

The thyroid gland and the levels of thyroid hormones are affected by pregnancy, even when the mother does not have hypothyroidism. Sometimes, a thyroid disorder can begin during or just after pregnancy, particularly if there was heavy bleeding during the delivery.

If a woman has untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy, then she and her baby will be at risk. The chances of developing a number of complications that are associated with pregnancy will be higher for a woman who has hypothyroidism. These include anemia, pre-eclampsia and serious bleeding after birth. The risks of a premature delivery and of a miscarriage are also increased. The development of the baby can also be affected by the mother’s untreated hypothyroidism. The baby is at risk of having a lower than normal birth weight, and there is also a higher risk of birth defects.

As long as the condition has been diagnosed and the woman is receiving treatment for hypothyroidism, these complications will be avoided. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with synthetic thyroid hormones. These replace the thyroid hormones that the thyroid gland is not producing in large enough quantities. This treatment is safe during pregnancy, and is in fact necessary in order to keep both baby and mother safe.

A woman who has already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism will need to undergo additional blood tests to check that the dosage of her medication is correct if she becomes pregnant. The levels of thyroid hormones in a healthy woman will increase during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. Most women who are being treated for hypothyroidism will therefore require an increased dosage of hypothyroidism medication. It can also be a good idea to check the dosage of hypothyroidism medication before trying for a baby in order to ensure that it is still working. It is important to check the dosage of hypothyroidism medication early in the pregnancy as the requirement for thyroid hormones will increase during the first part of the pregnancy. The dosage will also need to be checked again during the pregnancy, as the requirement for thyroid hormones will change.


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