The usual protocol for pregnant women with an underactive thyroid is to treat the condition with synthetic thyroid hormone therapy. Treating an underactive thyroid during pregnancy with hormone treatment can lower the risks of pregnancy complications such as pregnancy loss, placental abruption, premature rupture of membranes, and neonatal death. But is the treatment itself creating its own set of risks? Researchers at Mayo Clinic wanted to know the answer, too,, so they conducted their own study that analyzed the number of pregnant women with subclinical hypothyroidism and the outcomes of their pregnancy.
Dr. Spyridoula Maraka, Mayo endocrinologist and lead author of the study, along with her team, tracked data from more than 5,400 pregnant women with subclinical hypothyroidism. They found that only 16 percent of these women received thyroid hormone treatment. Of that 16 percent, while they had lower rates of pregnancy loss, they had higher rates of preterm delivery, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
The researchers concluded that overtreatment is a possibility, and that health care professionals should weigh the risks more carefully when treating a pregnant woman with mildly underactive thyroid.
So this raises the question: Are there safer ways to treat low-thyroid in pregnant women besides hormone therapy?
The good news is that some things can be done to encourage the thyroid to function properly. Simple changes in your lifestyle can make a significant impact on your body’s overall functioning, including that of your thyroid.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Identify and eliminate allergens.
- Eat whole foods and healthy fats.
- Reduce your stress levels.
- Use supplements if necessary.
Current health care guidelines recommend pregnant women with low thyroid function receive thyroid hormone therapy; but with this new study, the decision to treat should be considered carefully. The tips given are more natural solutions for those who have a mildly underactive hypothyroid. Programs like functional medicine use detailed testing to identify any allergies or deficiencies that might be affecting the body’s ability to produce and utilize thyroid hormones. These treatment options use safer, more effective techniques without the use of drugs to support healthy thyroid function. It has also been proven to help with type II diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. The decision of whether or not to treat low thyroid, especially in pregnant women, should warrant an in-depth discussion, and people should know that more can be done to support healthy thyroid function than just hormone therapy.