Researchers are considering whether thyroid check up should be made mandatory in pregnant women, even if no symptoms of the disease are seen. Previous studies have shown that even a slightly under active or a hyperactive thyroid gland during pregnancy may result in premature births or miscarriage or babies with lower IQ's.
2-5 percent of women in general and around 1-2 percent of women in the reproductive age group suffer from thyroid problems. As a result thyroid problems are quite common in pregnant women also.
Thyroxine, the hormone secreted by this gland regulates metabolism and plays a very vital role in the formation of various tissues.
An over active thyroid calledHyperthyroidism,increases heart rate and blood pressure, causes weight loss, depression and vision problems. Hyperthyroidism may also be the cause behind irregular or absent menses and infertility.
Whereas an under active thyroid, called hypothyroidism causes fatigue, constipation, weight gain, forgetfulness, a hoarse voice, and dry skin. Hypothyroidism affects fertility of women by causing an increased frequency of menstrual periods and amenorrhea when hypothyroidism is severe. Ovulation and conception may be hindered due to associated changes.
A proper secretion of thyroid hormone is necessary for a pregnancy without complications, especially during the early stages. Pregnant women with evident hypothyroidism need to be treated soon.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have begun research in this field. Several thyroid disorders, which occur during pregnancy, are autoimmune in nature. The body develops antibodies against thyroid cells, which then affect its functioning.
Antibodies, directed towards the thyroid cells, may result in thyroid inflammation known as lymphocytic thyroiditis also known as Hashimoto's disease, which leads to hypothyroidism.
Experts suggest that patients undergoing investigation for menstrual problems or infertility should also be checked for thyroid disease. Guidelines by an international endocrinology panel are expected to be released soon that will urge testing pregnant women at high risk. High risks include thyroid disease in the family or Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. Prescription of prenatal vitamins containing iodine essential for proper thyroid function is also being considered.