Thyroid health into pregnancy

Professor Creswell Eastman AO is a world-renowned endocrinologist with a primary interest in Iodine Deficiency Disorders. He is the Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney School of Medicine and Consultant Emeritus to Westmead Hospital.

Professor Eastman recently spoke to Australian Health Journal about iodine deficiency in pregnancy preparation and the mother’s health during pregnancy. May is the time of the year for the Australian Thyroid Foundation’s (ATF) Thyroid Awareness Month and Professor Eastman spoke about why iodine deficiency has become an even greater risk in Australians in recent years. He stresses the importance of public health literacy and health care professionals (HCPs) having a better understanding of the disorders associated with iodine deficiency.

Recent research from The Lancet – March 2022 emphasises the consequences and risks of an inadequate amount of thyroid hormone at conception, during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

‘Without an adequate amount of thyroid hormone mothers can be exposed to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, including gestational hypertension and preeclampsia or eclampsia, which affect around 10% of pregnant women and are the leading causes of maternal and neonatal mortality worldwide. Mothers who suffer from hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are at increased risk of long-term cardiovascular consequences and hypertensive disorders in subsequent pregnancies. Evidence also indicates a risk of reduced cognitive ability to their offspring.

‘Knowing if you are genetically predisposed to Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Diseases, which are both thyroid autoimmune disorders is important to be aware of, to ensure all appropriate tests are ordered. Autoimmune disorders may predispose mothers to a thyroid problem during pregnancy’, says Professor Creswell Eastman, who also serves as the ATF’s Principal Medical Advisor.

‘Unnecessary risks to a pregnancy and the mother’s health during pregnancy and ongoing is something that can be avoided and prevented. Raising awareness and ensuring thyroid tests are ordered by GP’s, when couples are planning a family and when the pregnancy is confirmed are both essential.

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