Pregnant women have to visit their doctor frequently to ensure that everything is normal. All the attention is on the growing fetus and the uterus. There are some health professionals who insist that sufficient attention must be given to the neck region as well. It is in the neck region that the thyroid gland is located. The thyroid igland is a relatively large endocrine gland. The principal thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodo thyronine (T3).
Thyroid Related Hormones
The hormones released from the thyroid gland play an important role in oxidative metabolism and heat generation. Thyroid gland and the hormones secreted from this gland play very important roles in various aspects of metabolism. The secretion of the thyroid hormones is under the control of the hormone TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) from the pituitary. The secretion of TSH is further controlled by TRH (TSH releasing factor) from the hypothalamus.
Hypothyroidism can result because of genetic factors, autoimmune disease or, surgery. For example, a congenital deficiency of one of the enzymes in the thyroid hormone biosynthetic pathway may be responsible. The mechanism for thyroid hormone release from the site of production may not function properly. There may be defective formation of TSH from the pituitary gland. It may also be due to decreased availability of the hormone TRH. When there is hypothyroidism, which is very common in women, problems can arise during pregnancy. Hypothyroidism can also lead to infertility in women.
Consequences of Underactive Thyroid
When the thyroid gland is underactive, miscarriage and premature birth are possible. Moreover, the baby may have a lower IQ. Poor intellectual development and impaired motor skills are also possible in the babies. The babies also tend to have lower birth weights. Incidences of increased neonatal distress have also been noticed. Hence, it has been suggested that the thyroid gland should be tested for normal functioning, especially during the first trimester.
Pregnant women should be tested for the circulating levels of thyroid hormones every four to six weeks. Pregnant women with underactive thyroid gland should be given thyroid hormone supplements. These supplements are considered to be safe during pregnancy and breast feeding.