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Over the past few years I have suspected hypothyroidism in myself. Not having insurance, or a desire to take synthetic or animal thyroid glands for treatment, I chose not to get tested. During my first trimester my hair began falling out like crazy, I was very depressed, and extremely tired. I immidiately became concerned that these symptoms may be related to a thyroid disorder not just pregnancy. I told my nurse practitioner (I didn’t have a doctor), she informed she could not do a screening for me. I had to wait until my insurance came through, so I could get an appointment at a local clinic, to be screened. The whole time I was worried that if I did in fact have hypothyroid, what affect this might be having on my unborn child going untreated.
Approaching 26 weeks I was finally screened. Thankfully, I do not have abnormal levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which means I do not have a thyroid disorder. But, in my opinion, it’s important for every pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, woman to know the risks and complications and be screened.
In 1999 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists performed a study on the affects of Thyroid disorders during pregnancy which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings led to a recommendation that all women get screened for thyroid disorders prior to becoming pregnant, but especially during pregnancy. Why after 12 years it is not common practice to screen pregnant women considering the risks is baffling.
“Both animal and human studies have shown that thyroid hormones are crucial to brain development.”
“…school-age children whose mothers were hypothyroid during pregnancy had lower IQ scores than children whose mothers were not hypothyroid during pregnancy.” -WebMD
Not from the Study, but very relevant:
“An untreated thyroid disorder during pregnancy is a danger to both mother and baby. For mothers, the risks include a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure (called preeclampsia) and other pregnancy complications. For babies, the risks include preterm birth, decreased mental abilities, thyroid disorder and even death.” –March of Dimes
“Untreated, or inadequately treated, hypothyroidism has been associated with maternal anemia (low red blood cell count), myopathy (muscle pain, weakness), congestive heart failure, pre-eclampsia, placental abnormalities, low birth weight infants, and postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding). These complications are more likely to occur in women with severe hypothyroidism. Most women with mild hypothyroidism may have no symptoms or attribute symptoms they may have as due to the pregnancy.” –Thyroid.org
“Uncontrolled maternal hyperthyroidism: Uncontrolled maternal hyperthyroidism has been associated with fetal tachycardia (fast heart rate), small for gestational age babies, prematurity, stillbirths and possibly congenital malformations.” –Thyroid.org
In addition I have read in my many books and magazine articles on pregnancy that untreated hypothyroidism can cause deafness during the first trimester, all the more reason to be screened early. Unfortunately, as stated above, a lot of the same symptoms of thyroid disease are pregnancy symptoms.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (from the March of Dimes)
• Nervousness, anxiety attacks, or irritability
• Sudden weight loss
• Rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, or pounding of the heart (palpitations)
• Shaking hands and fingers
• Inappropriate sweating
• Increased sensitivity to heat
• More frequent bowel movements
• Changes in menstrual patterns
• Muscle weakness
• Difficulty sleeping
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
• Unexplained weight gain
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Dry skin
• Heavier than normal menstrual periods
• Muscle and joint aches
• Muscle weakness
If you have any concerns you should consult your doctor immediately.