On a cold snowy day in New York City in early 2009, I lay on a medical exam table on what would be one of the worst days of my life. I had miscarried at 12 weeks and was preparing for a D&C. A technician had just taken an ultrasound and walked out of the room to confirm to the medical staff that my fetus had no heartbeat. I sprang off my bed and ran to the image on the screen. I felt my body shake and my fists clench as I stared at the image of my unborn child. What had happened to my child?
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, the year following the birth of my first son in 2006. I struggled day to day with a fatigue that hit me like an avalanche of bricks. I trusted my doctors implicitly and followed their thyroid drug protocol to the letter, never once thinking they might not know everything there was to know about hypothyroidism. I trusted them as the experts especially when I became pregnant that second time.
I would later learn that my Ivy League medical school trained and top awarded doctors did not know enough about hypothyroidism especially as it related to pregnancy. Under their care my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) reached levels far above the safe range for pregnancy and endangered my baby’s life.
A study presented June 2012 at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston recommended that all pregnant women should undergo thyroid screening in the first trimester of pregnancy. The study was conducted on 1,000 pregnant women in their first trimester in Ludhiana in Punjab, India. According to the study’s lead author Jubbin Jagan Jacob, M.D.1:
“The study found that even mild thyroid dysfunction could greatly increase the risk of serious problems. Women with mild thyroid dysfunction had double the risk of miscarriage, premature labor or low birth weight as compared to pregnant women with normal thyroid function. They also had seven times greater risk of still birth.”
In the Journal of Medical Screening, researchers in a large study of 9,400 pregnant women demonstrated that pregnant women with hypothyroidism had a second trimester miscarriage risk four times the risk of women who were not hypothyroid2.
According to a 2008 study in the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, hypothyroidism has a statistically significant relationship with recurrent pregnancy loss in the first trimester. According to researchers3:
“Thyroid hormones are essential for the growth and metabolism of the growing fetus. Early in pregnancy the mother supplies her fetus with thyroid hormones. If the mother is hypothyroid, she cannot supply her fetus with enough thyroid hormones. Hence hypothyroidism is a risk factor for pregnancy loss.”
So why had I trusted my doctors unquestioningly?
My doctors tried to assure me there was no link between hypothyroidism and miscarriage, but my instincts told me they were wrong.
As the medical staff prepared me for my D&C that fateful day, I vowed that I would do everything in my power to research everything there was to know about this disease and warn women everywhere about the dangers. I would never trust my doctors unquestioningly ever again.
I fulfilled my vow and launched my blog Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the baby I lost to hypothyroidism and in dedication to my two boys who beat the odds and made it to the world. There is hope for moms with hypothyroidism.
What about you?
Have you suffered a miscarriage and wonder if your thyroid was to blame?
Are you hypothyroid and thinking about getting pregnant?
Do you consider your doctors experts and trust them unquestioningly?
1. Endocrine Society (2012, June 23). Mild thyroid dysfunction in early pregnancy linked to serious complication. Newswise. Retrieved July 3, 2012 fromhttp://www.newswise.com/articles/mild-thyroid-dysfunction-in-early-pregnancy-linked-to-serious-complications
2. Allan, W.C., J.E. Haddow, G.E. Palomaki, J.R. Williams, M.L. Mitchell, R.J. Hermos, J.D. Faix, R.Z. Klein. Maternal thyroid deficiency and pregnancy complications: implications for population screening. J Med Screen 2000; 7:127-130. Retrieved fromhttp://184.108.40.206/content/7/3/127.full.pdf
3. Rao VR, Lakshmi A, Sadhnani MD. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in recurrent pregnancy loss in first trimester. Indian J Med Sci 2008;62:357-61. Retrieved from http://www.indianjmedsci.org/text.asp?2008/62/9/357/43122