Managing Thyroid Hormone Levels in Pregnancy
Thyroid hormone plays a critical role during pregnancy both in the development of a healthy baby and in maintaining the health of the mother. Read about functions of the thyroid gland.
Women with thyroid problems need to understand thyroid’s effect on pregnancy. Also, throughout pregnancy, it is necessary to monitor the thyroid function and take the required medications.
Effect of Pregnancy on Thyroid Function
Two pregnancy-related hormones- human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen cause an increase in thyroid hormone levels in the blood. So in a way HCG is similar to TSH and mildly stimulates the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. Whereas, increased estrogen produces higher levels of thyroid-binding globulin, a protein that transports thyroid hormone in the blood.
These hormonal changes are considered to be normal.The thyroid enlarges slightly in all pregnant women, but not enough to be detected by a physical exam. A noticeably enlarged thyroid can be a sign of thyroid disease and should be evaluated.
Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders in Pregnancy
Thyroid problems are difficult to diagnose in pregnancy. This is because of the following reasons:
- Since a normal pregnancy can also have slightly elevated levels of thyroid hormones, just measuring hormonal levels is not diagnostic.
- Symptoms of both pregnancy and thyroid disorders are somewhat common, like fatigue, weakness.
Thyroid hormone is critical to normal development of the baby’s brain and nervous system. During the first trimester, the fetus depends on the mother’s supply of thyroid hormone, which comes through the placenta. At around 12 weeks, the baby’s thyroid begins to function on its own.
Types of Thyroid Problems
Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy: Read to understand how to manage low thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy.
Hyperthyroidism in Pregnancy : Read to understand how to manage elevated thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy.