Researchers at the University of Crete report a possible link between thyroid dysfunction, autoantibodies, and pregnancy complications/outcomes. According to the findings, women who test positive for elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels and/or autoantibodies pertaining to thyroid function may be at increased risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, C-section, early delivery and low birth weight.

Data used for the study was collected from 1,170 women as part of the “Rhea” study in Greece. All women were pregnant with just one fetus. The study focused on early pregnancy, so serum samples were taken in the first trimester for TSH, free T3, and free T4. The serum was also tested for thyroglobulin antibody and thyroid peroxidase antibody.

After taking all factors into consideration that could alter the outcome of the study results, researchers found that TSH and autoantibody levels did indeed impact pregnancy complications/outcomes.

According to the study results, women with elevated TSH and autoantibodies were four times more likely to develop gestational diabetes and three times more likely to give birth to a low birth weight infant. If TSH levels were normal, but autoantibodies were elevated, there was an increased risk of early delivery. An increase in early delivery was not noted when both TSH and autoantibody levels were elevated.

Overall, women with thyroid disorders or dysfunction need advanced prenatal care with special emphasis on TSH and autoantibody levels in early pregnancy. Testing for these elements in the first trimester may give obstetricians a better outlook on potential pregnancy risks, complications and outcomes, particularly the development of gestational diabetes and the risk of spontaneous early delivery.

Source: Polyxeni Karakosta, Dimitris Alegakis, Vaggelis Georgiou, Theano Roumeliotaki, Eleni Fthenou, Maria Vassilaki, Dimitrios Boumpas, Elias Castanas, Manolis Kogevinas, and Leda Chatzi. Thyroid Dysfunction and Autoantibodies in Early Pregnancy Are Associated with Increased Risk of Gestational Diabetes and Adverse Birth Outcomes. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism September 26, 2012, jc.2012-2540.