Monday, September 10, 2007

Your Pregnancy and Your Thyroid

Over five million Americans have hypothyroidism and many go undiagnosed. Thyroid dysfunction is particularly common in women of child-bearing age, in fact it is estimated that 2.5% of all pregnant women have some degree of hypothyroidism. If you have have hypothyroidism, or it runs in your family, you should make absolutely sure to bring it up with your doctor. Thyroid needs are likely to change during pregnancy and your hormone levels should be checked each trimester.

When your thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland in the front of your throat, is under active you are not getting enough of the hormone your body needs to run your metabolism and many other things. Symptoms of an under active thyroid include: fatigue, weakness, dry hair, hair loss, cold intolerance, depression, irritability, and abnormal menstrual cycles. Untreated hypothyroidism may also make it harder to get pregnant.

During pregnancy it is important that women with the condition take their replacement thyroid medicine everyday. In a often sited study from the New England Journal of Medicine published in 1999, mothers with undetected hypothyroidism during pregnancy are 4 times more likely to have children with lower I.Q. scores. The more significant the hypothyroidism, the greater the likelihood of developmental problems. Also, women with hypothyroidism are at an increased risk for miscarriage during the second trimester.

Another important thing to remember when taking replacement thyroid hormone, is that you should take it at least three hours apart from when you take your prenatal vitamin. Taking them close together reduces the absorption of the hormone, as does eating high fiber foods or taking antacids. So it is also well advised to take your thyroid replacement on an empty stomach.

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