Endocrine System Home > Hypothyroidism Risk Factors

Certain risk factors can increase a person's chances of developing hypothyroidism. These include female gender, older age, a family history of conditions that affect the immune system, and recent radiation to the neck or chest area, among other things. While having risk factors does not mean a person will necessarily develop an underactive thyroid, the healthcare provider may recommend regular testing to detect problems early.

What Are Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is when a person's thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormones to meet the body's needs. It can be caused by a number of different conditions, surgery, or medications (see Hypothyroidism Causes).
 
Some factors can increase a person's chances of developing hypothyroidism. These are known as hypothyroidism risk factors.
 
Specific risk factors for an underactive thyroid include:
 
  • Female gender (women are five to eight times more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men)
     
  • Age (hypothyroidism is more common in people over the age of 60)
     
  • Women with a small body size at birth and during childhood
     
  • A previous history of a thyroid problem, such as a goiter or thyroid surgery
     
  • A family history of thyroid disease
     
  • Having been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months
     
  • A history of other autoimmune diseases, including Sjögren's syndrome, pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus
     
  • A history of Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects females
     
  • A history of radiation to the thyroid or to the neck or chest.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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