Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy Goes Largely Undiagnosed

Researchers combed through 117,892 Quest Diagnsotics records and found that about 15% of women tested positive for gestational diabetes. Based on this finding, they estimate that as many as 483,000 women with gestational diabetes may go undiagnosed every year. Asian women had the highest rates of being tested and being positive for this condition, and older women and overweight women were much more likely to be tested during pregnancy. 

Hypothyroidism during pregnancy can lead to lower IQ scores in children after birth. 

I’ve written extensively before that pregnancy increases your chances of sleep-breathing problems, especially in light of significant weight gain that occurs. Gaining weight is a major risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, which has been shown to significantly increase your risk or diabetes and hypertension. Any form of physiologic stress can has been shown to lower your thyroid levels as well. You don’t have to have obstructive sleep apnea to have significant breathing problems at night.

Having low thyroid levels can also promote weight gain. Poor sleep quality also promotes weight gain. Weight gain narrows your throat, causing more breathing problems. It’s a vicious cycle. Regardless of which comes first (sleep apnea or hypothyroidism), it’s a two-way street.

If you consider that our population as a whole is now heavier, and women are having babies at much later ages, then hypothyroidism is one of many conditions related to sleep-breathing problems and pregnancy that is expected to increase in numbers.


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2 thoughts on “Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy Goes Largely Undiagnosed

  1. it probably doesn’t help that the labs are still reporting a normal TSH up to 5.5. so even if a doc wanted to monitor a pregnant woman, most don’t realize that anything 3.0 or higher is probably not normal. as estrogen levels rise in early pregnancy, thyroid binding globulin levels rise sharply and free T4 drops quickly. I miscarried my first pregnancy, likely because my TSH went to 4.5 and I was floridly hypothyroid, at only 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. any hypothyroid woman needs to increase her thyroid hormone dose the moment she gets pregnant.

    don’t forget about the fact that when you are pregnant, you can’t sleep prone anymore if you needed to in order to protect your airway. sleep apnea can get significantly worse right at the point a woman has to stop sleeping prone, regardless of any other changes like weight or hormones.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Dr. Deb. Hormonal fluctuations are majorly under-managed in sleep apnea, and especially during pregnancy. Even if you don’t officially have obstructive sleep apnea, lots of minor sleep-breathing events can disrupt quality sleep and disrupt hormone levels.