By BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 04/20/2016

The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland located in the neck and responsible for the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones control the rhythm of many body activities, such as the heart rate, the rate at which calories are burned, etc. These activities are important for the metabolism of the body.

The thyroid disease involves an alteration in the release of hormones, which can have serious consequences. Suffering from the thyroid disease during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage and reduce the baby’s intellectual abilities.

Pregnant women should check their thyroid in early pregnancy, or when trying to conceive. If the pregnant woman was already being treated, medical check-ups should be done every 6-8 weeks in order to monitor the activity of the gland and reduce potential risks associated.

Untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy

There exist different thyroid disorders, being hypothyroidism the most common one. It involves a deficient production of thyroid hormones, which causes weight gain, concentration problems, weakness, fatigue, intolerance to cold, hair loss, etc.

Chances of suffering untreated hypothyroidism are higher amongst the following population groups:

  • School-age children
  • Women of childbearing age
  • Pregnant women

About 2.4% of pregnant women have hypothyroidism. The main risks associated with untreated hypothyroidism in pregnant women are: placental displacement, premature birth, decreased IQ, and low birth weight.

Furthermore, during the first semester of pregnancy, the embryo has no thyroid gland yet or it is not sufficiently developed. The mother supplies thyroid hormones to the baby, so it is essential for her to produce the required amount of hormones.

Achieving pregnancy with hypothyroidism

Studies have shown that the malfunction of the thyroid gland can have a negative impact on fertility.

Hypothyroidism is associated with subfertility, which is to say, it is harder for women with hypothyroidism to carry a pregnancy to term.

Besides, pregnancy is harder to endure due to the common symptoms of hypothyroidism, which have been listed above.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo

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    Kylie Williams

    Hello, I’m taking medications prescribed by my doctor to deal with hypothyroidism in pregnancy. Does it mean everything will be right for me??? Thx

    • Dear Kylie,

      As stated above, the symptoms and consequences listed above develop in cases of untreated hypothyroidism. Where there is an adequate treatment, no bigger issue should arise. Nonetheless, each case is different and must be addressed from an individual approach, analyzing the potential consequences for the patient.