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Hyperthyroidism and Pregnancy

It is important for pregnant women to adequately control their thyroid levels. An overactive thyroid that is untreated or inadequately controlled during pregnancy can cause problems such as miscarriage and preeclampsia. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in pregnant women are often similar to those seen in nonpregnant women. However, pregnant women have fewer treatment options because radioactive iodine is not safe for the fetus.

Pregnancy and Hyperthyroidism: An Introduction

Women being treated for hyperthyroidism should discuss their condition with their healthcare provider before becoming pregnant. This will allow everyone to be on the same page as it relates to how long to wait after getting treatment, what should be done to help get pregnant, and how to decrease the chances for complications during or after pregnancy.

Causes and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism, both in pregnant women and women who are not pregnant, is Graves' disease. This is a type of autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own healthy thyroid gland. It occurs in about 0.2 percent of all pregnancies.
Many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are similar to those experienced by pregnant women without the condition -- an increase in heart rate, fatigue, increased sweating, and an intolerance for heat. The thyroid gland also gets bigger in healthy women when they become pregnant. That normal enlargement, combined with other symptoms, makes a new thyroid problem easy to miss.
Some clues that help with diagnosing hyperthyroidism during pregnancy are:
  • Weight loss
  • A goiter
  • Problems with vision.
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