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Thyroid Disorders & Treatments Thyroid Disease in Pregnancy & Childhood

Mothers, Remember Your Thyroid

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Your thyroid gland:

  • can affect whether you can become pregnant
  • can affect your baby's development in utero
  • can have a big influence on how you feel in that important year after the birth.

Watching out for your baby

  • If you are having trouble conceiving or carrying to term, your doctor will be sure to test your thyroid as well as other problems that could be involved.
  • If you are producing too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), it may be important to treat that before you get pregnant. The most usual treatment in the United States is with radioactive iodine, but they won't use it if there's a chance you are pregnant.
  • If you are producing too little hormone (hypothyroidism ), it is important for you to be treated so your levels are normal-the baby's mental and physical development can be influenced by it.

When your baby is born, it will be tested for thyroid function. One in every 3,500 babies is born with hypothyroidism, and it is important for treatment to begin in the first two months of life. If you are having a short hospital stay or home delivery, make sure the baby's thyroid test doesn't get missed.

Your whole system adapts to pregnancy and lactation, but after your baby is born is one time in your life when your thyroid hormone levels can easily get out of whack. For instance, it is known that one out of 20 new mothers will have thyroid problems sometime in the first year after delivery.

Special risks

If you are vulnerable to various autoimmune problems-if you or someone in your close family has rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, or pernicious anemia, or you take insulin for juvenile diabetes - your risk may rise to 1 out of 4 for thyroid problems postpartum.

Postpartum Thyroid Disease - Trouble after delivery

They say that new mothers are stressed out, depressed, weak, irritable - because of the birth and caring for the baby.

  • But that's not the whole story - 5% of new mothers are producing too little or too much thyroid hormone, and that can be helped if it is identified. For most women, the hormone levels go back to normal in a year or so, but meanwhile, life is harder than it need be.
  • 20% of mothers with problems never go back to normal thyroid levels and always will need supplemental thyroid hormone treatment.

So if you are feeling really dragged out or stressed out, be sure you get the basic thyroid test - for the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) in your blood. If this shows you have a problem, other tests can indicate what to do to help you.

Nowadays doctors will treat your thyroid problems in that important first year and won't just wait for you to "snap out of it." You deserve to feel your best, and fixing your thyroid levels may do it or at least help a lot.

Did You Know?
This is the third most common thyroid problem in the US.
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