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Mary Shomon

Pregnant Women With Elevated Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies Need More Followup

By June 24, 2011

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In one of those "ok, could you please tell us something new" announcements, over at the European Congress of Endocrinology, researchers reported that because more than a third of the women who test positive for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies while pregnant go on to develop abnormal thyroid hormone levels within two years, more followup needs to be done with these women.

In the press release on the research, Czech researcher Eliska Potlukova, PhD said: "This is rather surprising, as these positively screened women should have been referred to an endocrinologist already in pregnancy. Thus, in the general population, this number could be much higher. That means a lot of women -- perhaps tens of thousands in one of the larger European countries -- will have thyroid problems, which could be detected earlier."

Not so surprising, actually, because at least here in the United States, women with thyroid antibodies who have euthyroid -- or "normal" TSH levels -- are not routinely referred to an endocrinologist, even if they are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant.

In Potlukova's study, among the women who were antibody positive who had normal thyroid levels in pregnancy, a total of 29% had TSH levels outside of the normal range at follow-up.

Said Potlukova: "We need to be following up these women to try to catch their thyroid disease early, as this could have major implications for the health of the mother, baby and any subsequent babies who may be carried while the mother has a thyroid condition. In addition, we need to educate women to be aware that having this antibody can have serious health implications for themselves and their families."

Note from Mary: Yes, Dr. Potluka. You're absolutely right. Now, how do we convince the physicians? Here at the About.com thyroid site, we've been talking for more than ten years about the importance of knowing antibody levels in women contemplating pregnancy or newly pregnant, understanding the impact of thyroid levels on fertility and pregnancy, and careful, attentive testing and management of thyroid levels during pregnancy.

More Information on Pregnancy and Thyroid Disease:

Source: Potlukova E. Poster 436. Presented at: 13th European Congress of Endocrinology; April 30-May 4, 2011; Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
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