Lifestyle issues start controlling you when you cannot control your lifestyle. One of the most common ailments caused by a ‘not so good’ lifestyle is thyroid. The thyroid gland makes hormones that help in the functioning of the body. When it makes too much or too little of these hormones, it leads to thyroid problems.

Dr Sangeeta Gomes, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore, “The thyroid disorder may start before pregnancy as a pre-existing condition in the body or the problem can develop during pregnancy for the first time or soon after childbirth. If your thyroid is overactive or underactive, it can cause some issues during pregnancy.”

Thyroid Hormones In Pregnancy 

thyroid pregnancy

The levels of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream must be normal during pregnancy for your baby’s normal development. For the first 3 months of gestation, the baby depends on the mother’s thyroid hormones supplied through the placenta. 

You can be at a higher risk of developing thyroid during pregnancy due to the following factors: 

  • In case you already suffer from a thyroid condition or have a goiter or a swollen thyroid gland. 
  • In case you suffered from thyroid condition in the past (during and after pregnancy).  
  • If you have an autoimmune disorder or have a family history of thyroid condition (including Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s disease) 
  • In case you have Type 1 diabetes. 

Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy 

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Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces and releases elevated levels of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism during pregnancy is caused by the autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease. In this condition, the body produces an antibody called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobin (TSI). TSI prevents the thyroid gland from releasing too much hormone. 

If you suffer from Graves’ disease, your doctor will monitor thyroid levels throughout gestation as too much thyroid hormone can be harmful to you and your baby. Hyperthyroidism can also cause hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that can lead to weight loss and dehydration.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism are the same as those in a normal pregnancy. Some of these are: 

  • Faster heart rate 
  • Sensitivity to heat 
  • Fatigue 
  • Severe nausea and vomiting 
  • Weight loss 
  • Slight tremors in hands 
  • Difficulty in falling asleep 
  • If hyperthyroidism is left untreated or not properly treated, it can cause the following issues among your baby: 
  • Premature birth 
  • Goiter 
  • Low birthweight 
  • Miscarriage 
  • Stillbirth 

Thyroid problems (If you suffer from Graves’ disease during pregnancy) 

Hypothyroid Disease During Pregnancy 

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Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not release normal or enough levels of the hormone. The common cause of this condition is Hashimoto’s thyroid, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the cells of the thyroid gland. This prevents the thyroid gland to release enough hormones without cells. 

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and normal pregnancy seem similar. Some other symptoms include: 

  • Muscle cramps 
  • Severe constipation 
  • Sensitivity to cold temperatures 
  • Difficulty in concentrating 
  • Memory issues 
  • Extreme tiredness 

Untreated hypothyroidism can cause several problems in babies, including: 

  • Low birth weight 
  • Problems in the brain and nervous system development 
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth 

In some cases, hypothyroidism can cause Infantile myxedema or dwarfism, a condition in which the patient is very short and suffers from intellectual disabilities. If your hypothyroidism is not treated correctly in the first trimester, chances are it can cause a low IQ in your baby. 

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Treatment Of Thyroid Condition In Pregnancy 

If you suffer from mild hyperthyroidism, you might not need any treatment or medication. If the condition is severe, your doctor will prescribe antithyroid medicines that will reduce thyroid hormone production. It will also prevent too much thyroid hormone from entering the baby’s bloodstream. However, the medication can cause side effects. If you see any unusual side effects, contact your doctor immediately. 

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, your doctor will prescribe you a synthetic hormone known as levothyroxine. The hormone is similar to T4, which is normally produced by the thyroid gland. Taking levothyroxine is essential for your baby, especially till the time your baby starts making hormones. In case you have been taking the treatment for your hypothyroidism, make sure that you tell your doctor about your pregnancy, who might increase the dose of levothyroxine. 

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It is crucial to take proper treatment for thyroid conditions to prevent future medical complications within you and your baby.

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