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How Does Thyroid Affect Pregnancy?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ekta Singh 90% (42 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Gynaecologist, Noida  •  23 years experience
How Does Thyroid Affect Pregnancy?

Thyroid disease is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, a small, wing shaped gland that secretes the thyroid hormone. The thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland and its proper functioning. These thyroid hormones are responsible for the metabolism of the body and a slight tweak in the levels can also lead to the onset of thyroid diseases like hyperthyroidism (excessive production of the thyroid hormone) or hypothyroidism (inadequate production of the thyroid hormone), as well as other conditions. The thyroid hormone has a crucial role to play as far as pregnancy is concerned. Let us find out how.

  1. Estrogen and hCG: There are two distinct hormones that are related to pregnancy, the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen. These hormones can cause an increase in the thyroid hormone levels that are contained in one's blood. The hCG is usually created by the placenta and is quite similar to the TSH or thyroid hormone. The hCG is known to mildly stimulate the thyroid gland, which causes greater production of the thyroid hormone. Also, once the estrogen in the body increases, it can lead to higher levels of globulin, which is a thyroid binding substance. This is a protein that takes the thyroid hormone to the blood and is also known as thyroxine binding globulin. When these hormones change on a less than normal basis, it can lead to difficulties in the thyroid reading during pregnancy.
  2. Nervous System: The thyroid gland is known to be especially important for the development of the baby's brain and nervous system. In fact, the thyroid hormone supplied by the mother in the first trimester will have a direct bearing on the development and growth of the foetus. This thyroid hormone travels through the mother's placenta. Once the first trimester has been completed, the baby will start to produce its own thyroid hormone.
  3. Enlarged Thyroid during Pregnancy: While the thyroid does enlarge slightly during one's pregnancy, it cannot really be detected merely with a physical examination. While a noticeable enlarged thyroid may point at the advent of thyroid disease, it will need to be properly evaluated as these problems are difficult to diagnose during pregnancy. This is due to the high levels of thyroid in the bloodstream during pregnancy, as well as an increase in fatigue and the other symptoms that are most commonly associated with thyroid disease.
  4. Hyperthyroidism in Pregnancy: This condition during pregnancy can cause congestive heart failure as well as the risk of preeclampsia, which can cause the rise of blood pressure during pregnancy.
  5. Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy: This can cause anaemia due to a low count of red blood cells which prevents proper oxygen supply for the baby. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.
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