Endocrine System Home > Hyperthyroidism and Pregnancy

How Uncontrolled Hyperthyroidism Affects Pregnancy

Like many other conditions, hyperthyroidism should be monitored during pregnancy. This is because a woman with uncontrolled or inadequately controlled hyperthyroidism is at increased risk.
If left untreated during pregnancy, hyperthyroidism raises the chance of:
Untreated hyperthyroidism during pregnancy may also affect the baby's growth and brain development.

Treatment for Hyperthyroidism During and After Pregnancy

Women who are not pregnant can use medicines, radioactive iodine, or surgery to treat hyperthyroidism. During pregnancy, however, the treatment options are more limited.
Radioiodine therapy is not used in pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding. Radioactive iodine can be harmful to the fetus's thyroid, and it can be passed from mother to child in breast milk.
Medicines may be recommended. In nonpregnant women, the two options are methimazole (Tapazole®) and propylthiouracil (PTU). Propylthiouracil is the first choice for pregnant women because methimazole can, in rare situations, cause scalp problems in infants whose mothers took methimazole during pregnancy. Pregnant woman can also take beta blockers to help with symptoms.
Through frequent monitoring and adjusting of medicines as needed throughout the pregnancy, the risk hyperthyroidism presents to both the mother and fetus can be minimized.
Surgery may be recommended for pregnant women who cannot tolerate antithyroid medicines.
For women treated for an overactive thyroid during pregnancy, there is an increased chance that the hyperthyroidism symptoms will return, so healthcare providers will monitor these women more closely during the postpartum period.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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