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Thyroid Disorders in Pregnancy

Prof. Md. Farid Uddin

Founder Chairman & Course Co-ordinator
Department of Endocrinology
BSMMU, Dhaka

Thyroid function during normal Pregnancy

TSH and hCG during Gestation

Thyroid hormone changes in different trimester


1sttrimester 2ndtrimester 3rdtrimester


Normal or



Free T4




Free T3




Total T4




Total T3




Pregnancy and Thyroid Disease - Facts



Hypothyroidism (TSH)
Thyr Antibodies [antiTPO]
PP depression
PP Graves


30% [ vs 20%]
up to 40% of Graves

Fetal Mortality and Morbidity

in Pregnant Hyperthyroid Patients

Number of reports
Number of pregnancies
Total number of pregnancies
Fetal death and stillbirth
Fetal and neonatal abnormality

3 - 41
14 (5.6%)
15 (5%)

NB:Incidence of Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy app 0.24%

Outcome of Poorly Treated Hyperthyroidism

in Pregnancy


Placenta abruptio
Preterm delivery
Congestive Ht failure
Thyroid Storm

Fetal death /stillbirth
Fetal abnormalities

Causes of Thyrotoxicosis in Pregnancy

Graves disease
TMNG, toxic adenoma
Hydatiform mole
Gestational hCG-asscociated Thyrotoxicosis
Hyperemesis gravidarum hCG
60% TSH, 50% FT4
Resolves by 20 wks gestation
Only Rx with ATD if persists > 20 wk

Pregnant & Suppressed TSH

TSH < 0.1

TSH 0.1 0.4

Recheck in 5 wks

FT4, FT3, T4, T3

Thyroid Abs

Still suppressed


Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Very High TFTs:

TSH undetectable
very high free/total T4/T3
hyperthyroid symptoms
no hyperemesis
TSH-R ab +
goitre, nodule/TMNG
pretibial myxedema

Dont treat with PTU

Abnormal TFTs past 20 wk

Treat Hyperthyroidism (PTU)

Treatment of Hyperthyroidism in Pregnancy

Aim for high-normal to slightly elevated hormone levels
T4 150-230 nM, T3 3.8-4.6 nM, FT4 26-32 pM

Confirm diagnosis

No RAI ever (destroy fetal thyroid)

Start propylthiouracil or other ATD

Render patient euthyroid - continue with low dose

ATD up to and including labour
Monitor thyroid function regularly throughout
gestation (4-6wkly).Adjust ATD if necessary

Treatment of Hyperthyroidism in Pregnancy


Check TSAb at 36 wks. Gestation

Discuss treatment with patient
[effect on patient, effect on fetus, breast
If allergy/Neutrogena on PTU: 2nd trimester
Review postpartum - check for exacerbation

Effect of Antithyroid Drugs

in Pregnancy on Offspring
Messer et al Acta Endoc. 1990, 123:311-316S

Studied 17 children of 13 hyperthyroid mothers

(ATD) and 25 children of 15 euthyroid mothers 711 years after birth
No differences between groups in clinical/mental
psychological development

Similar to data from

1) McCarrol et al. Arch Dis Child 1976, 51:532-536
2) Burrow et al. Yale J Biol Med 1978, 51: 151-156

Thyrotoxicosis & Lactation

ATD generally dont get into breast milk

unless at higher doses:
PTU > 450-600 mg/d
MTZ > 20 mg/d

Generally safe
Take ATD dose just after breast-feeding

Should provide 3-4h interval before lactates


Patterns of Thyroid Function Post Partum


Post Partum Graves Disease

Immune rebound phenomenon

TSHR Ab decrease during pregnancy - rebound in

postpartum (Gonzalez-Jimenez et al 1993)

37/92 patients of child bearing age had onset

postpartum i.e. 40% (Tada et al 1994)

But PP Graves often de novo presentation

Of 96 episodes postpartum hyperthyroidism - silent

thyroiditis was seen occasionally coincidental with
Graves (Momotani et al 1994).

Indications for Testing

Thyroid Function in Pregnancy

On T4 prior to gestation

History of autoimmune thyroid disease

+ve thyroid autoantibodies
Previous postpartum thyroiditis
Graves disease in remission

+ve FH autoimmune thyroid disease

Type 1 DM and/ other autoimmune disease

Previous neck irradiation/ partial

thyroidectomy [decreased thyroid reserve]


Prevalence :
Overt Hypothyroid (OH) : 0.3 % 0.5 %
TSH >10 and Free T4: Low

Sub-Clinical Hypothyroid (SCH): 2 % - 3 %

TSH: High >5 but <10 mIu/liter, Free t4 : Normal

Thyroid Autoimmunity (TAI) & causes of hypothyroid in pregnancy

Thyroid autoantibodies : 5 % - 15 % in child bearing age ,

even with normal thyroid function. Associated with
increased rate of pregnancy loss.
Dr. A. Hasanat, Prof. M.N. Alam et al (1997).... 135/397
(34 % with different thyroid disease

in Bangladesh)

Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis is the leading cause of

hypothyroidism in pregnancy.
Iodine deficiency (UIE < 10 g/dl) by WHO
Lymphocytic hypophysitis

Thyroid function in the Fetus :

TSH appears at 10 12 weeks.
Little hormone synthesis until 18 20 th weeks.
At term TSH is much higher FT4 is lower.
Soon after birth TSH is ~ 50 80 mIU/liter
Comes down to 10 -15 mIU/liter within 48 hours.

Congenital hypothyroid is not related to maternal

thyroid dysfunction. Iodine deficiency may contribute.

Clinical features :
Usually not very prominent symptoms
May have wt gain, cold intolerance, lethargy,
constipation, edema etc.

Lab Investigations

Free T4
Antithyroid antibody : TPO (Thyroid peroxidase)
TG (Thyroglobulin)
Total T4 and T3 level is increased (~ 1.5 folds) due to
increased TBG. TBG is increased about 2 folds.
No change in Free T4 or FT3

Patients may present as

Diagnosed Hypothyroid on Replacement
became pregnant
Newly diagnosed Hypothyroid during pregnancy
(OH or SCH)

Diagnostic criteria : during pregnancy

Still controversial .
Trimester specific reference ranges1 of FT4 and TSH is
coming up.
TSH is Lowest in first trimester , highest in third trimester and
In between in the second trimester
Normal Ref. Range is 0.4 mIU/liter 4.0 mIU/liter

1. Deshe et al.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. August 2007, 92(8)(Suppl): S8

Some of the Authors if

TSH > 2.3 in first trimester and

TSH > 3.5 in the Second and Third Trimester
With normal Free T4

Should be considered as Subclinical Hypothyroidism

Obstet gynecol 2005;106:753-757

Evidence :
Repercussion of Hypothyroid: Maternal aspect
Hypertension (Gestational)
Placental abruption

J Med Screen 7:127-130

Repercussion of Hypothyroid: Fetal aspect

Premature birth
LBW (30 %)
Cognitive impairment of the baby
Abnormal brain development
Increased perinatal mortality (12 %)
Psychoneurological impairment, Low I.Q. etc
J Med Screen 7:127-130
Endocrine Clinics of North America 2006

The maternal and fetal repercussion depends on ..

Severity of hypothyroidism (in case of OH is more than SCH)
Time of onset ( First trimester is more important)
Adequacy of treatment (under treatment is associated with
Increased adverse outcome)

Therapeutic Aspects :
30 % - 50 % above preconception dose
Non Pregnant 1.7 2.0 g/kg/day, increased upto
2.0 -2.4 g/kg/day
New onset hypothyroid should be initiated with higher dose
100 150 g per day or titrate according to B.W.

Dose adjustment every 4-6 weeks.

Those who are already on thyroxin, may increase the dose
by 25 % as soon as pregnancy is confirmed.
10 % - 20 % may not need to increase the dose.

Hypothyroid due to other causes (Surgery, Post ablative,

Congenital agenesis ) requires greater increment than H.T.
Aim is to maintain normal FT4 and TSH
Dose increment may be difficult in hyperemesis

Target of TSH and FT4 :

Treatment to target TSH 0.3 2.5 in First Trimester

and 0.5 3.0 in the Second or Third trimester1
FT4 should be kept either at trimester specific target or
above the median of the Laboratory Reference Range.
eg. Normal Range 9 23 pmol/l , keep above 16 .

1. US Preventive Study Task Force

Whom to screen ?
Universal screening not yet recommended except by AACE.
High risk subjects should be screened :
- H/O thyroid disease
- F/H of thyroid disorders
- Known case of TAI ( Antibody +)
-Other autoimmune disease
- High degree of suspicion
- Bad obstetric history
- Obese or Rapidly gaining weight

Both OH and SCH should be treated
Treatment is very safe and Effective. Drug interaction
with Calcium and Ferrous Sulfate ( absorption)
Usually life long
New onset SCH subjects may be re-evaluated after
stopping the drug for 6 wks.

Continue throughout pregnancy and Lactation (Do not

stop to see any reason )
Increase dose during pregnancy ( 30 50 %)
Normal delivery or as per obstetric indication
Target TSH and FT4 must be achieved

After delivery mostly need to decrease the dose

Close monitoring by Endocrinologist and Obstetrician &
Gynecologist for better outcome.
Dependable Laboratory support

Neonatal screening

CH is one of the major causes of mental and

physical retardation. (1:4000)
The condition is reversible if detected in first few
weeks of life and treatment starts
Unfortunately the clinical manifestation is often
Neonatal screening is now a well established
program throughout the world for detection of CH

Procedure of screening

Few drops of blood are collected in filter paper,

dried and sent to laboratory for analysis
The blood is collected from cord at birth or from
heel prick after 72 hrs of birth
For detection of CH TSH is estimated
The screening positive babies are recalled and
confirmed by serum T4 & TSH

SCH INMU Experience

Period of

No. of

No. of

No. of

Incidence of






Thank You

20.19 Thyroid disease in pregnancy Normal pregnancy Trimester-specific normal

ranges: should be used to interpret thyroid function test results in pregnancy. In the first
trimester, TSH is lower and free free T4 and T3 higher, in part due to thyroid stimulation by
human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). In later pregnancy, free T4 and T3 are lower. Binding
globulin levels are induced by oestrogen, so total T4 and T3 levels are invariably high.
Iodine requirements: increased in pregnancy. The World Health Organization (WHO)
recommends minimum intake of 200 g/day.
Screening of thyroid function and autoantibodies: not recommended for every woman,
but should be performed in first trimester in those with a personal or family history of thyroid
disease, goitre, other autoimmune disease including type 1 diabetes, or when there is clinical
suspicion of thyroid dysfunction.
Thyrotoxicosis Hyperemesis gravidarum: associated with thyrotoxic biochemistry,
sometimes requiring antithyroid drugs.
Subclinical thyrotoxicosis: not usually treated, to avoid fetal hypothyroidism.
Anti-thyroid drugs: propylthiouracil is first choice.
Hypothyroidism Preterm labour and impaired cognitive development in the offspring:
may be associated with even subclinical hypothyroidism.
Thyroxine replacement therapy dose requirements: increase by 30-50% from early in
pregnancy. Monitoring to maintain TSH results within the trimester-specific reference range is
recommended in early pregnancy and at least once in each trimester.
Post-partum thyroiditis Screening: not recommended for every woman, but thyroid function
should be tested 4-6 weeks post-partum in those with a personal history of thyroid disease,
goitre or other autoimmune disease including type 1 diabetes, those known to have positive
anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies, or when there is clinical suspicion of thyroid dysfunction.