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03-05-2011 | General practice | Article

Thyroid checks for pregnant women urged

Abstract

European Congress of Endocrinology

One in twenty women who give birth could be at risk of going on to develop thyroid problems within 2 years, report researchers.

They call for pregnant women who test positive for antibodies to thyroid peroxidase (TPO) to be closely monitored and followed-up after delivery, even if they are euthyroid during pregnancy.

Reporting their findings at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, researchers from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, explained that almost one woman in seven is known to test positive for TPO antibody, but follow-up studies of women who have TPO antibodies during pregnancy are scarce.

Of 100 pregnant women in their current study who had normal thyroid levels but tested positive for TPO antibody in the first trimester, 36% had abnormal thyroid stimulating hormone levels at 22 months after giving birth.

Lead researcher Dr Eliska Potlukova said: "This is a potentially important finding, because it affects so many women. Roughly one in seven pregnant women will test positive for the TPO antibody and we have now found that more than a third of these will go on to develop thyroid problems within 2 years of giving birth. This is rather surprising, as these positively screened women should have been referred to an endocrinologist already in pregnancy."

She added: "We need to be following up these women to try to catch their thyroid disease early... In addition, we need to educate women to be aware that having this antibody can have serious health implications for themselves and their families."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price