Do you know that the base of your neck contains a butterfly-shaped gland? It is one of the glands that are most important for carrying out some of the most important physiological functions. The hormones it generates regulate how your body uses energy, impacting how nearly all of your organs work.
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How do these hormones affect the growth of your baby?
It helps to develop the child’s brain and nervous system, and for the first 3 months of their growth, they are entirely dependent on your supply of thyroid hormone. Though their thyroid gland starts to function around 12 weeks, the hormones produced are insufficient for them and cause an overproduction of thyroid hormone in your body, which gets passed on to your baby through the umbilical cord. Due to this, it becomes difficult for the health care provider to diagnose if you have a thyroid problem or if it’s just because of your pregnancy.
Two of the most common thyroid issues are :
Hyperactive production of the thyroid hormone causes;
- Excessive weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Having muscle weakness and tremors
- Experiencing irregular menstrual periods or having your menstrual cycle stop
- Sensitive to heat
- Having vision problems or eye irritation
Insufficient production of thyroid hormone by the gland
- Unexplained weight gain
- Lethargy (Feeling tired)
- Muscle weakness
- Experiencing forgetfulness
- Having frequent and heavy period flow
- Dry hair
- Hoarse voice
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Iodine deficiency
- Autoimmune diseases such as Graves’ disease causing hyperthyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease leading to hypothyroidism
- Inflammation caused by a virus or bacteria
- Nodules, or non-cancerous lumps
- Cancerous tumours
- Specific medical treatments, including radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and some medicines
- Some genetic disorders
How can untreated hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism affect you and your baby?
- Premature birth
- Birth weight less than 2.5 kgs
- Preeclampsia – Increase in blood pressure during late pregnancy
Risk of hyperthyroidism for the baby
- Rapid heart rate can lead to heart failure
- Poor weight gain
- An enlarged thyroid can block the windpipe causing difficulty in breathing
Risk of hypothyroidism for the baby
- Lack of thyroid hormone causes low IQ levels and normal development of the baby.
Most of the time treatment involves medications that should be taken under expert supervision only after being diagnosed correctly.
- Anti-thyroid drugs (methimazole and propylthiouracil): Stops overproduction of thyroid hormone
- Radioactive iodine: Damages cells of the thyroid gland that prevents high thyroid levels
- Beta-blockers: Help to control your symptoms
- Thyroid replacement medication: Synthetic medicine to boost thyroid production.
Foods to eat to manage thyroid levels
The recommended daily allowance of iodine for pregnant and lactating women is 250 mcg and 280 mcg, respectively.
Here are some iodine-rich foods that you can try to include in your diet to help properly function the thyroid gland.
- Iodized salt
- Dairy foods
- Meat and poultry
So the biggest question is can you conceive when you have thyroid issues? Yes, you can, but consulting with an expert before getting pregnant will help avoid many such complications.