30 May 2013

Thyroid disorders tied to complications in pregnancy

Up to 4% of pregnancies involve mothers with thyroid conditions, researchers say.


Pregnant women with thyroid disorders are at greater risk for premature delivery and other pregnancy complications, a new study indicates.

Researchers caution that these complications could have both short-term and long-term health consequences for women and their babies. Thyroid disease occurs when the thyroid gland - located at the front of the neck - doesn't supply the proper amount of hormones needed by the body.

"In the United States, at least 80 000 pregnant women each year have thyroid diseases," study lead author, Dr Tuija Mannisto, of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.

"These women are at increased risk of having serious adverse pregnancy outcomes, including hypertension and preterm birth. They also have a higher rate of labour inductions and other birth interventions," Mannisto explained.

How the study was done

In conducting the study, the researchers examined medical records from more than 223 000 pregnancies. The investigators found that women with thyroid conditions were more likely to develop preeclampsia, a complication marked by protein in the urine and a sharp rise in blood pressure during pregnancy. These women were also admitted to the intensive care unit more often, were more likely to develop gestational diabetes and had a higher rate of caesarean deliveries.

"Women need appropriate thyroid hormone levels to support a healthy pregnancy, so it is very important to carefully monitor expecting mothers who have thyroid diseases," said one of the study's authors, Pauline Mendola, from the NICHD. "We also need more research to identify ways to reduce the risks these women currently face."

Although the study found an association between having a thyroid condition and higher risk of pregnancy complications, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The US National Library of Medicine has more about thyroid disease.

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