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US study finds link between thyroid problems and pregnancy complications

Thyroid disorders in pregnant women cause a greater risk of health complications for both mother and child, new research suggests.

Women who have both underactive and overactive thyroids stand a higher chance of preterm birth or other complication, according to the study by the US National Institutes of Health.

The report, which was published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, claims that up to 4% of all pregnancies involve mothers with thyroid conditions.

To determine the rate of complications among women with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the retrospective cohort study looked at electronic medical records of 223,512 pregnancies where a single child was born. The data came from the Consortium on Safe Labor study performed from 2002-2008.

The study’s lead author, Tuija Männistö, said: “These women are at increased risk of having serious adverse pregnancy outcomes, including hypertension and preterm birth. They also have a higher rate of labour inductions and other birth interventions.”

Those women with thyroid conditions were more likely to develop preeclampsia and spent more time in intensive care.

Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid disease in pregnancy and women who suffered from the disorder were more likely to develop develop gestational diabetes.

They also had a higher rate of cesarean delivery.

Pauline Mendola, one of the study’s authors, said: “Women need appropriate thyroid hormone levels to support a healthy pregnancy, so it is very important to carefully monitor expecting mothers who have thyroid diseases.

“We also need more research to identify ways to reduce the risks these women currently face.”

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