I have hypothyroidism and am 21 weeks pregnant. I am under treatment and my TSH levels are tested often. Do I need to be concerned for my baby’s development or health?
No, it seems as if you and your obstetrician are on the right track for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland that is not producing enough of the thyroid hormone. Since the thyroid affects so many of the body’s functions, the effects of hypothyroidism can be numerous, including fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair, constipation, difficulty concentrating and depression.
The treatment for an underactive thyroid is synthetic thyroid hormone. The necessary dosage is different for each individual and sometimes it takes some experimenting before the right daily dose is found. As the years go by, it is not uncommon for people with hypothyroidism to find they gradually need to increase their dose.
During pregnancy, untreated hypothyroidism can be harmful to both mother and child. It can cause hypertension and premature birth. In 1999, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that children born to hypothyroid mothers who did not take thyroid hormone had significantly lower intelligence than other children.
The thyroid medication is safe to take during pregnancy. The reason for the frequent testing is that the mother’s need for the hormone tends to rise dramatically, so the dosage must be increased accordingly. After birth, the mother’s medication needs usually return to pre-pregnancy levels.