Thyroid Screening During Pregnancy: Essential Information for Expectant Mothers

by Johnny Jacks

Thyroid disease can pose significant risks to both the health of pregnant women and the development of their fetuses. As such, it’s crucial to undergo thyroid testing during pregnancy, particularly within the first three months. This will help to detect any potential issues and allow for prompt treatment, mitigating any unfortunate consequences.

Wondering if you need a pregnancy thyroid screening test?

Pregnant women need special thyroid screening tests during the first trimester. (Source: Internet Collection)

Obstetricians and gynecologists recommend that certain individuals undergo thyroid screening during pregnancy. These include:

  • Pregnant women who have a higher risk of developing thyroid disorders, such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, simple goiter, thyroid nodules, Basedow’s disease, or thyroid cancer during pregnancy.
  • Those with a family history of thyroid disease or who have previously experienced thyroid issues during pregnancy.
  • Women who have experienced adverse pregnancy outcomes like miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, or birth defects.
  • Those with type 1 diabetes or autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Women who are receiving treatment for hypothyroidism or who have undergone thyroidectomy or radiation treatment in the neck or head.

Pregnant women with any of these conditions should receive comprehensive pregnancy and thyroid screening tests to evaluate thyroid function, including TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and FT4 (free thyroxine) tests. It’s also crucial to monitor the disease status regularly and take thyroid medication during pregnancy if diagnosed with a thyroid disorder to avoid any adverse effects on fetal development. So, what are the risks of thyroid disease during pregnancy?

How dangerous is thyroid disease during pregnancy?

Thyroid disease can be highly dangerous during pregnancy. The thyroid gland, which is shaped like a butterfly and located in the front and bottom of the neck, plays a critical role in synthesizing and secreting thyroid hormones into the bloodstream and tissues. These hormones are essential for regulating energy use, body temperature, and proper functioning of the heart, brain, muscles, and other organs.

During the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, the fetus does not have its own thyroid gland and relies on the mother’s thyroid hormones to develop properly. It is crucial to ensure an adequate supply of these hormones for the fetus, as this is a critical stage for organ formation and development.
Thyroid disease during pregnancy can cause many dangerous complications for both mother and baby. (Photo: Internet Collection)
Thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or thyroid cancer during pregnancy can have direct and dangerous consequences for both the mother and the fetus. If left untreated, these conditions can result in complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, intellectual disability, and even life-threatening conditions like pre-eclampsia.

Therefore, thyroid screening during pregnancy is essential, even if the pregnant woman does not exhibit any symptoms or is not at high risk for the disease. A TPO antibody test can help screen for thyroid function and prevent the risk of miscarriage due to hypothyroidism. It’s also crucial to test for TSH levels before planning a pregnancy and during the first 3-6 months of pregnancy.

The first 10-12 weeks of pregnancy are particularly crucial since the fetus relies entirely on the mother for proper development. After three months, the baby’s body can produce thyroid hormones independently, but still depends on the mother’s iodine intake. The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women supplement their diet with approximately 200 mcg of iodine per day to maintain thyroid function and minimize harm to the baby.

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of thyroid disease during pregnancy, such as fatigue, weight changes, constipation, hair loss, and sensitivity to cold or heat. However, many women with thyroid disease may not show any noticeable symptoms, which underscores the significance of routine thyroid screening during pregnancy.

Symptoms of thyroid disease during pregnancy

Thyroid disease symptoms during pregnancy are similar to the symptoms of normal pregnancy, need testing to know the exact disease. (Photo: Internet Collection)


Hypothyroidism are both thyroid diseases that can affect pregnant women. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include heat sensitivity, hypertension, fatigue, heart rhythm disturbances, anxiety, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, pain and swelling in the neck area, blurred vision, difficulty sleeping, and unusual weight changes. Hypothyroidism can cause similar symptoms to normal pregnancy, such as fatigue, constipation, memory decline, sensitivity to low temperatures, poor cold tolerance, digestive disorders, and pain or discomfort in the abdomen.

To confirm whether a pregnant woman has thyroid disease or not, it is necessary to visit specialized clinics for thyroid tests. Doctors can then provide timely intervention and treatment measures, helping to avoid unfortunate consequences. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women with thyroid disease to visit a specialist obstetrician-gynecologist for regular examination and monitoring during pregnancy, and to seek prompt treatment when necessary, especially in the first trimester. This article aims to raise awareness about the danger of thyroid disease during pregnancy and the importance of thyroid testing.

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