Are you anxious about getting pregnant with thyroid disease? Do you feel concerned about thyroid disease negatively affecting your child’s health?
A woman’s body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy. This includes changes in thyroid hormone levels. Appropriate functioning of your thyroid gland is important during this period.
Thyroid diseases in pregnancy can cause serious complications to you and your fetus if left untreated. Timely detection and proper thyroid treatment can prevent the ill effects of thyroid diseases and pregnancy. Your treatment must be holistic, extending beyond just hormonal regulation.
This blog will guide you in understanding the symptoms, complications, and treatment of thyroid disorders during pregnancy. Read on to know more.
Why is thyroid health during pregnancy critical?
Pregnant women are often told to eat well because they are “eating for two”. Your body is responsible for the health of both you and your child.
The same goes for your thyroid gland. Your thyroid function in pregnancy must be healthy and sufficient for yourself and your fetus. This is because your fetus cannot secrete and use thyroid hormones on its own and it depends on you for its requirement.
Your thyroid hormones reach your fetus through the placenta and perform certain crucial functions such as brain and nervous system development. Hence, thyroid health is of utmost importance.
Hypothyroidism in pregnancy:
Hypothyroidism is a condition caused due to an underactive thyroid gland. According to a study, the prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism and overt hypothyroidism among pregnant women is 6.47% and 4.58% respectively.
Hypothyroidism in pregnancy can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms of pregnancy and hypothyroidism are similar. In some cases, hypothyroidism in pregnancy is missed because of mild symptoms.
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism in pregnancy are :
- Muscle cramps
- Weight gain
- Feeling tired
- Slow heart rate
- Dry skin
Complications of hypothyroidism in pregnancy:
Complications of hypothyroidism during pregnancy depend on two factors- the severity of the disease and the time of detection. Diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism earlier can prevent the risk of miscarriage and fetal loss.
People with mild hypothyroidism usually don’t see many complications. Some complications of severe hypothyroidism during pregnancy include:
- Myopathy - It is a disease that affects the muscle fibres resulting in muscle weakness
- Heart diseases
- Gestational hypertension
- Gestational diabetes
Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy:
Hyperthyroidism is nothing but the excessive production of thyroid hormones by your thyroid gland. The prevalence of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy is 0.1-1%. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is Grave’s disease.
Though the percentage of people with hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is low, it is always better to approach your doctor if you feel any symptoms.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy are more or less the same as those when you are not pregnant. These include:
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Heat intolerance
Complications of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy:
Hyperthyroidism can cause serious complications to the mother and fetus if not treated properly. Some maternal complications of hyperthyroidism include
- Heart failure - It is seen in 10% of pregnant women with severe untreated hyperthyroidism
- Thyroid storm - A very rare emergency condition when your thyroid suddenly releases an excess of thyroid hormones
- Early labor
- Pre-eclampsia - A condition with high blood pressure and liver problems.
Disclaimer: These complications occur only when the condition is severe yet untreated. You can prevent this by treating your thyroid diseases in pregnancy at an early stage itself.
How does your thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy affect the child?
Would my thyroid disease affect my child? That’s the most common question Jeevam health doctors get asked about thyroid and pregnancy.
Thyroid diseases during pregnancy cause serious adverse effects only when left untreated or improperly treated. Thyroid deficiency during pregnancy may affect the child’s neuropsychological development.
According to a study, children of women with untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy showed comparatively low IQ levels than other children. Mild brain development abnormalities may also be present in untreated hypothyroidism cases.
Another study concludes that pregnant women who treated their hypothyroidism experienced no risk of maternal, fetal, and neonatal complications.
Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism might cause fetal tachycardia, fetal hyperthyroidism, and congenital malformations. Other problems such as respiratory diseases, low birth weight, prematurity, and stillbirth.
Treatment of thyroid diseases in pregnancy:
Now that we’ve seen the symptoms and complications of thyroid in pregnancy, let’s discuss how you can manage and treat your thyroid disease.
Thyroid disorders in pregnancy need early detection and the right treatment to prevent any future ill effects on the child. If you previously had thyroid disorders, then opt for thyroid function tests as soon as you are pregnant.
After completing your tests, approach a thyroid doctor to see if there is any abnormality. If there is one, follow the medication strictly to avoid any other issues.
Treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy:
Treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnancy would first focus on replacing the thyroid hormones using medications. Your doctor might prescribe levothyroxine according to your needs. Thyroid tests should be done every 4 weeks to monitor the function of your thyroid gland.
Treatment of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy:
If the hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is severe, then you would be advised anti-thyroid medications. This is to bring your thyroid hormones T4 & T3 in the normal to slightly increased range.
Your medication for thyroid disease is just the first step. Think of it as the foundation and start focusing on your diet, exercise, and meditation. That’s how Jeevam health implements a holistic approach to any thyroid disease.
You are what you eat and what you digest, include foods that can speed your recovery processes such as fruits, vegetables, greens, and nuts. See to your thyroid diet and completely avoid junk foods, canned drinks, and heavily processed foods.
Approach your thyroid doctor and check if you can exercise. Ask for an exercise plan that suits both your thyroid health and pregnancy. Start exercising to improve your metabolism and reduce your symptoms.
Optimal thyroid health is much needed during the time of pregnancy for both maternal and fetal wellness. Thyroid disorders during that time must be treated proactively in a complete manner.
Thyroid hormone replacement will not be sufficient as you might get thyroid disease again after completing the treatment. Your thyroid treatment should clear the root cause instead of simply fixing the symptoms.
A healthy diet, the right exercise, and certain lifestyle changes - all these things contribute more to your thyroid health than you think. Everyone’s body is different and so must be the treatment.
Jeevam health treats everyone according to their body and their symptoms. We focus on providing a personalized approach for everyone.