Even moderate thyroid dysfunction during early pregnancy significantly increases the risk of serious complications, underscoring the need for universal screening in the first trimester, a new study finds. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.
"These findings add to the now increasing evidence from previous studies that all pregnant women, irrespective of their risk for thyroid problems, probably should be screened for thyroid dysfunction within the first three months of getting pregnant," said study lead author Jubbin Jagan Jacob, M.D., associate professor at Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana in Punjab, India.
Thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, and helps regulate the process of turning food into energy. Excessively low hormone production, or hypothyroidism, may cause symptoms like fatigue, sensitivity to cold temperatures, constipation, and depression.
During pregnancy untreated, hypothyroidism is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and other serious complications. Although previous research has suggested that women with moderate thyroid dysfunction, or subclinical hypothyroidism, also are more likely to suffer complications, the level of risk was uncertain.
In this study, investigators found that even mild thyroid dysfunction that did not meet the criteria for hypothyroidism greatly increased the risk of serious problems. Compared to pregnant women with normal thyroid function, the risk was:
Screening for hypothyroidism involves taking a thorough history of symptoms, as well as a simple blood test to measure levels of another hormone, called thyroid-stimulating-hormone, or TSH, that promotes thyroid
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