Could Taking Thyroid Medicine Reduce Your Risk of Pregnancy Complications?

According to new research, this common thyroid medication could reduce a woman's risk of dealing with pregnancy complications. 

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According to a new study, popular thyroid drug levothyroxine may help bring down a woman's risk of pregnancy complications. This research, which was presented at the Society for Endocrinology's  annual conference in Brighton, indicates that taking the drug could possibly bring down early C-section, stillbirth and low birth weight rates. 

Levothyroxine boosts thyroid hormones, which control the body's metabolism, dictating how it uses energy. Thyroid hormones can also affect fetal brain development, and since babies don't start producing this independently until the second trimester, it makes sense that this could change birth outcomes. Keep in mind that around 3 percent of pregnant women have low thyroid levels.

To better understand the relationship between birth outcomes and thyroid levels, researchers from the University of Cardiff analyzed over 13,000 women during their second trimesters. A small percentage (about 518 of the thousands sampled) had hypothyroidism, a condition characterized by low levels of thyroid hormones. About half of the women with hypothyroidism went on the drug; the other half did not. Their findings? The women who went on levothyroxine had fewer instances of C-sections. They also had no instances of stillbirth within the treated group as well.

We'll require additional testing to determine whether or not this treatment will make pregnancy and childbirth safer, but screening for thyroid abnormalities is always a good idea if you're pregnant.

"Our work raises the possibility of providing real benefits from using a safe, cheap and well-established treatment by simply extending it to the number of pregnant women we treat," Dr. Peter Taylor, lead author of the study, said according to Science Daily.  "We should consider universal thyroid screening in pregnancy as it compares favourably in terms of cost-effectiveness with other conditions that we currently screen for."