Thyroid gland is a small butterfly like gland which produces thyroid hormones. Thyroid disease is basically a disorder of the thyroid producing glands and occurs when the glands produce more or less thyroid hormone than the body needs. Too much thyroid hormone is called hyperthyroidism and results in speeding up of many functions of the body. Too less thyroid hormone is called hypothyroidism, resulting in slowing down of the body functions. This hormone affects metabolism, development of brain and its control on various functions of the body, body temperature, muscle and bone strength, menstrual cycles, weight, and cholesterol levels. As such it plays an important part in the development of the child during pregnancy.
During pregnancy a lot of hormonal changes take place in the body of a woman. As a result of increased hormonal level of estrogens the thyroid hormone level in the blood increases. During the first trimester of pregnancy the foetus depends upon the thyroid hormones supplied by the mother. In case of excessive thyroid hormone supply the development of brain and nervous system can get affected. After about eleven to twelve weeks of pregnancy the thyroid glands of the baby start functioning. The glands of the child get the supply of iodine necessary for functioning from the mother, who in turn gets it from her food and salt.
During pregnancy the thyroid glands get slightly enlarged releasing higher level of thyroid hormones in the blood, this has the effect on the immune system of the body. Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism during pregnancy can cause:
- Severe nausea and vomiting resulting in dehydration and weight loss.
- Rise in blood pressure in later part of pregnancy.
- Increased rate of heart beat resulting in congestive heart failure.
- Premature birth or poor weight gain of the child.
Most of the symptoms of thyroid are common to the normal pregnancy. These include increased heart beat rate, heat intolerance by the women, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, tremors and weight loss or failure to get normal pregnancy related weight gain. If during initial pregnancy any of these symptoms are noticed it is necessary to consult the doctor immediately. The doctor will get blood test for thyroid tested. Even otherwise at the start of pregnancy the routine tests include thyroid test. In case of the ladies suffering from thyroid problem the doctors suggests to take medicines to correct the thyroid level before planning a child.
Mild hyperthyroidism disease does not normally require medication. In severe cases treatment is done with drugs that interfere with production of thyroid hormones. However low possible dose is given to the mother as this drug crosses the placenta in small amount and can affect the foetal thyroid hormone production. Radioactive treatment is avoided as this may affect the child.