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Healthy Thyroid Gland Function means Healthy Pregnancy

Author:Dr. Swetha Rajan. MBBS., MS.,
Dr. Mehta’s Hospitals
Thyroid gland is Butterfly shaped gland that is located in the neck, which produces hormone called ‘Thyroxine’ that plays pivotal role in maintaining various bodily functions. Thomas Wharton in 1656 gave the Thyroid gland its modern name. Abnormal function of thyroid gland is more common in Adults, more common in Females than in Males, and frequently has undesirable consequences.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where in thyroid gland fails to produce enough of hormone known as ‘Thyroxine’. Women with Hypothyroidism may experience poor ability to tolerate cold, feeling of tiredness, constipation, depression, weight gain, swelling in the front of neck, menstrual abnormalities, infertility and decreased IQ.Thyroxine produced by the pregnant woman is important for normal brain development of the unborn offspring. Hence it is essential to identify and treat any abnormal thyroid function during pregnancy. The pregnant woman is required to make 50% more of thyroid hormone during pregnancy to meet the demands rendered by her Fetus. Some Women are known to be unable to meet this increased demand in pregnancy, resulting in an overall reduction in thyroid hormone production and progression towards Hypothyroidism.As per the National data, it’s noted that 4.8 – 12% pregnant women in India suffer from Hypothyroidism.

As per the national guidelines, Screening for hypothyroidism with blood tests measuring TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) and Thyroxine levels are recommended in ‘all the at risk’ pregnant women. It’s worth a note that Women who are diagnosed to be Hypothyroid are advised to take thyroxine medications regularly on advice of the care taker.
Early diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy are potentially known to reduce the adverse effects of hypothyroidism on the pregnant Women and their Offspring.

Fact Box:
4.8 – 12% pregnant women in India suffer from Hypothyroidism.
Deficiency of thyroid hormone in pregnancy can lead to:

  • Miscarriage
  • Hypertension or fits during pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Intra uterine growth restriction
  • Excessive bleeding during delivery
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Respiratory distress and consequent hospitalization of newborn
  • Possibility of a birth defect in offspring or low IQ baby-Cretinism
  • Rarely Heart failure.

Notable risk factors for Hypothyroidism:

  • The Prevalent Iodine deficiency in people residing in hilly areas and foothills
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Obesity
  • prior thyroid dysfunction or prior thyroid surgery
  • History of thyroid dysfunction in parents/siblings/Children
  • History of diagnosed mental retardation in family/previous births
  • History of infertility
  • Known autoimmune diseases.

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