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Thyroid problems during pregnancy: Risks and management strategies | Health

3 min read

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland responsible for producing thyroid hormones and regulating metabolism level, heart rate and body temperature. Thyroid disorders are an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system mistakenly starts attacking your healthy cells and women are more prone to get diagnosed with thyroid than men.

Thyroid problems during pregnancy: Risks and management strategies (Photo by Mom Junction)
Thyroid problems during pregnancy: Risks and management strategies (Photo by Mom Junction)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sucheta Parte, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gyencologist at Motherhood Hospitals in Pune’s Lullanagar, shared, “When the thyroid is working properly, it produces an adequate number of hormones and releases them into your bloodstream. Pregnant women suffer from thyroid diseases when there is an imbalance of thyroid hormones in the body, which makes your thyroid overactive or underactive.”

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For the uninitiated, thyroid disease is classified into two types –

  1. Hyperthyroidism: In case of an overactive thyroid, your thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of hormone, also known as hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism tends to speed up your body’s metabolism rate which results in sudden weight loss without any reason, sweating too much, increased heart rate, frequent bowel movements, and nausea, shaky hands also called trembling occurs.
  2. Hypothyroidism: Underactive thyroid is also known as hypothyroidism; it occurs when your thyroid gland does not produce hormones as per the body’s requirement. During hypothyroidism, your metabolism rate slows down which results in weight gain, thinning of your hair or hair loss, slower heart rate, brain fog, and irregular periods.

Thyroid and Pregnancy

Dr Sucheta Parte explained, “Thyroid hormones are equally important during pregnancy to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Thyroid hormones produced by the mother’s thyroid gland are essential for the development of the baby’s brain, and nervous system. This leads to an increase in thyroid hormonal levels to support the health and growth of you and your baby. The baby fully depends on the mother’s thyroid hormones and starts developing on its own after 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy, which fully matures around 3rd trimester.”

She elaborated, “Many women tend to face various difficulties during pregnancy like blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid. Some women have thyroid disease even before pregnancy also known as pre-existing thyroid conditions. Some women might develop thyroid-related problems during pregnancy or after giving birth, even if they have no previous history related to thyroid issues. Iodine is an essential nutrient, required for the production of thyroid hormones. Iodine intake is very important for a pregnant woman, as it helps with the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system properly. Inadequate levels of iodine can directly affect thyroid function baby’s growth and cognitive abilities.”

Dr Sucheta Parte cautioned, “If the thyroid is left untreated during the pregnancy, it can lead to complications such as preeclampsia, premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, and even stillbirth. Pregnant women must seek timely intervention when it comes to their own and the baby’s health. Treatment for thyroid disorders during pregnancy aims to promote hormonal balance and support a healthy pregnancy. The treating doctor may also prescribe a few medications to normalize the thyroid hormone levels.”

She concluded, “Pregnant women should regularly monitor their thyroid hormone levels throughout the pregnancy by going for timely tests and check-ups. Furthermore, maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat iodine-rich food like eggs, and dairy products like milk, and yogurt. Try to exercise daily, stay stress-free by doing yoga and meditation, maintain an optimum weight, and take the help of an expert when it comes to following a well-balanced diet. Opt for medication prescribed by the doctor only to avoid any side effects.”


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