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Do you know that undiagnosed thyroid disorders can affect fertility and the health of mother and baby?
Hundreds of millions of people across the world are currently living with a thyroid disorder,1 with 1 in 8 women developing thyroid problems in her lifetime.2 Yet, there is a staggering lack of knowledge about the impact that thyroid conditions can have on fertility.
A recent international survey showed a lack of knowledge about the impact that thyroid conditions can have on fertility, as only a quarter (24%)* of respondents were aware that undiagnosed thyroid disorders can cause fertility problems. In addition, people are unaware of how undiagnosed thyroid disorders during, and after, pregnancy can have complications for mother and baby.
Results of the survey indicated that there is a need to better educate people on the possible impact of unmanaged thyroid disorders on fertility and the health on mother and baby.
About Thyroid Disorders
When undiagnosed, thyroid disorders can impact fertility, fetal development and the health of the mother and baby. However, when thyroid disorders are diagnosed and treated appropriately, patients with thyroid disorders can lead normal lives and have healthy pregnancies6.
Watch the stories of four mothers who know all too well how an undiagnosed – and therefore improperly managed – thyroid disorder can affect both mother and baby.
Thyroid disorders can affect fertility. If you have been trying for a baby for a while, it is important to know that thyroid disorders, both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), can sometimes be the cause of fertility problems.3,4 It is advised to get your thyroid checked if you:
– Have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 12 months5
– Have irregular menstrual cycles5
– Have had two or more miscarriages5
– Have a family history of thyroid disorders6
– Suffer from endometriosis7 or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)8
Pregnancy causes several physiological and hormonal changes that impact the thyroid. It is crucial for the thyroid gland to function properly during pregnancy; thyroid hormones are essential for the normal development of a baby’s brain and nervous system, and the baby relies on its mother to supply thyroid hormone through the placenta during the first trimester. Thyroid hormones also play a critical role in the development of maintaining the health of the mother-to-be.9
Expectant mothers should be tested for optimal thyroid hormone levels throughout pregnancy to check for the normal development and growth of an unborn child.
Many new mothers have complications with their thyroid in the first year after giving birth, even if they have no previous history of thyroid disorders. The condition is caused postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) and in most patients, it is a passing and transient condition. However, for some it can lead to a persistent overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or develop into an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).6 For any concerns, please seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
Thyroid disorders can also affect babies. Some infants are born without a thyroid gland or under-developed thyroid gland, known as congenital hypothyroidism. These babies with this disorder do not have enough thyroid hormone for their body’s needs, however if correctly diagnosed, in the first few days after birth, and with correct treatment, the disorder can be managed.10
What are thyroid symptoms? View our ‘Symptom checker’ to see.
Remember thyroid disorders can be managed by treatment. Don’t let a thyroid disorder go undiagnosed. If you are concerned that you have symptoms of a thyroid disorder, it is important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, who may carry out a blood test.
In addition, yoga can support your overall health and can improve the quality of life in patients with underactive thyroid.11, 12
How to get involved in spreading awareness about how undiagnosed thyroid disorders affect mother and baby
Spread the news on this important topic and let us make a difference in the life of people who suffer from thyroid-disorders. If you’re on social media, keep up with the campaign via our channels on Twitter and LinkedIn, and play your part in the global movement by using the hashtag #ITAW20.
Why are we doing this?
International Thyroid Awareness Week (ITAW), now in its 12th year, was created to highlight the detrimental impact that thyroid disorders have on people’s quality of life when left undiagnosed. Around 1.6 billion people worldwide are thought to be at risk, with hundreds of millions living with a thyroid condition right now.1 Up to 50% of those living with a thyroid disorder are undiagnosed, and people may be needlessly struggling through their everyday lives without knowing the root cause of their symptoms.13
However, once diagnosed, thyroid disorders are treatable,14, 15 and the ITAW campaign is pushing hard to improve testing and diagnoses globally.
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 7,208 adults in Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and China. Fieldwork was undertaken from 24 March – 6 April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (Aged 18+) in each country.
Date of preparation: February 2022