Ladies: Hypothyroidism in pregnancy can be dangerous, says this woman who suffered a miscarriage

This Guest STTM blog post was written by hypothyroid mom Dana, who strongly feels that her miscarriage was due to her treatment with T4-only medications. She now has two healthy sons of which the second one came into the world after she switched to natural desiccated thyroid. 

On a cold snowy day in New York City in early 2009, I lay on a medical exam table on what would be one of the worst days of my life. I had miscarried at 12 weeks and was preparing for a D&C. A technician had just taken an ultrasound and walked out of the room to confirm to the medical staff that my fetus had no heartbeat. I sprang off my bed and ran to the image on the screen. I felt my body shake and my fists clench as I stared at the image of my unborn child. What happened to my child?

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my first son in 2006. I trusted my doctors and followed their synthetic thyroid drug protocol to the letter …never once thinking they might not know everything there was to know about hypothyroidism. I trusted them as the experts especially when I became pregnant that second time.

In my first trimester, I was overcome by a sick, tired, weak feeling. I recall the night I told my husband, “I am worried that something is wrong with the baby.” My body was whispering a warning to me, but I trusted my doctors and didn’t question them when they responded that my thyroid levels were safe for pregnancy and that it was normal in early pregnancy to be tired. Somehow this “sick, tired, weak” feeling didn’t seem normal but I disregarded my body’s warning.

I would later learn that my Ivy League medical school trained and top awarded NYC doctors did not know enough about hypothyroidism especially as it related to pregnancy. Under their care my TSH soared far above the safe range for pregnancy and endangered my baby’s life. I miscarried at 12 weeks pregnancy.

A study presented June 2012 at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston recommended that all pregnant women should undergo thyroid screening in the first trimester of pregnancy. The study was conducted on 1,000 pregnant women in their first trimester in Ludhiana in Punjab, India. According to the study’s lead author Jubbin Jagan Jacob, M.D.:

“The study found that even mild thyroid dysfunction could greatly increase the risk of serious problems. Women with mild thyroid dysfunction had double the risk of miscarriage, premature labor or low birth weight as compared to pregnant women with normal thyroid function. They also had seven times greater risk of still birth.”

In the Journal of Medical Screening, researchers in a large study of 9,400 pregnant women demonstrated that pregnant women with hypothyroidism had a second trimester miscarriage risk four times the risk of women who were not hypothyroid.

According to a 2008 study in the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, hypothyroidism has a statistically significant relationship with recurrent pregnancy loss in the first trimester. According to researchers:

“Thyroid hormones are essential for the growth and metabolism of the growing fetus. Early in pregnancy the mother supplies her fetus with thyroid hormones. If the mother is hypothyroid, she cannot supply her fetus with enough thyroid hormones. Hence hypothyroidism is a risk factor for pregnancy loss.”

So why had I trusted my doctors unquestioningly?

My doctors tried to assure me there was no link between hypothyroidism and miscarriage, but my instincts told me they were wrong.

As the medical staff prepared me for my D&C that fateful day, the warrior mom came out of me. Don’t mess with my babies! I vowed that I would do everything in my power to research everything there was to know about this disease and warn women everywhere about the dangers. I would never trust my doctors unquestioningly ever again.

After 3 years of intense research and a quest to find the top thyroid health professionals, I am now in the best health ever. I changed to a great thyroid doctor who listened to my symptoms and discovered abnormally low free T3 levels despite my synthetic drug treatment. Thanks to a switch to the natural desiccated thyroid Nature-throid I am feeling great. I got pregnant naturally with my second son and gave birth to him in 2010. Dreams do come true for moms with hypothyroidism.

By Dana Trentini, creator of Hypothyroid Mom (http://hypothyroidmom.com).

You can read more about hypothyroidism and pregnancy in research here:

1.  Endocrine Society (2012, June 23). Mild thyroid dysfunction in early pregnancy linked to serious complication. Newswise. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from http://www.newswise.com/articles/mild-thyroid-dysfunction-in-early-pregnancy-linked-to-serious-complications

2. Allan, W.C., J.E. Haddow, G.E. Palomaki, J.R. Williams, M.L. Mitchell, R.J. Hermos, J.D. Faix, R.Z. Klein. Maternal thyroid deficiency and pregnancy complications: implications for population screening. J Med Screen 2000; 7:127-130. Retrieved from http://171.66.127.126/content/7/3/127.full.pdf

3. Rao VR, Lakshmi A, Sadhnani MD. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in recurrent pregnancy loss in first trimester. Indian J Med Sci 2008;62:357-61. Retrieved from http://www.indianjmedsci.org/text.asp?2008/62/9/357/43122

HO! HO! HO! Did you know the Stop the Thyroid Madness book is now also in German and Swedish? You can order your copy as a Christmas present for your loved one or friend here

Read about Pregnancy and Thyroid disease here.

 

23 Responses to “Ladies: Hypothyroidism in pregnancy can be dangerous, says this woman who suffered a miscarriage”

  1. Bonnie Ehrhardt

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve suffered similar pregnancy issues but do not have children of my own.This past decade has frustrated me too much that I’m not sure I want to try for children again.

    It wasn’t until my 5th miscarriage that I found out I had hashimoto’s. and it was my own internet research that I heard about the link between thyroid issues and miscarriage.I’ve hit miscarriage # 11 before I heard about Ndt….and forced my doc to make the switch.:) I’m happy that you have found success and I know that my health is on the rise,finally.

    Reply
  2. Beverly

    Two miscarriages late 30s, early 40s, full term stillbirth age 43. Thyroid was on “low side of normal”, so I do not know any numbers, and I am sure they did not do any other labs besides TSH. No living children. Mother was diagnosed with “hypo” when I was in utero in 1956, and she, although she was a RN, neglected to ask what she was taking (how stupid can a nurse be?). So, I have no clue what hormonal synthetics I was exposed to in utero, and what may have contributed to an already compromised endocrinology. I am in the process of trying to obtain my records from 56 years ago. From the DES community, it is my understanding that Big Pharma and the MDs even snuck some of the synthetic estrogens into prenatal vitamins. Is is any wonder our culture is having an infertility epidemic?

    Reply
  3. Suzanne Adair

    My first child was born 6 weeks early when hypothyroidism caused a partial placental abruption. Amazingly, the OB never tested my thyroid. I switched OBs for my second child. She put me on a baby aspirin every day, starting at 5 months. That stopped another abruption from happening, and I carried that baby to term, but I still had many of the symptoms encountered in my first pregnancy, and amazingly that OB never tested my thyroid, either.

    I’m grateful that my children are healthy today, even the one who was a preemie. Doctors are CLUELESS.

    Reply
  4. PYO

    I have a similar story. Got pregnant last year, I was so happy, went to all my doctors appointments, had blood tests done (Im certain none of these were for thyroid function) I still didnt feel well during pregnancy, I had hairloss, fatigue, feeling cold. the doctor said I was fine and not to worry. At 11 weeks I had a terrible misscarrage which nearly caused me to bleed to death (I know now this was from low levels of vitamin K common in hypothyroidism)The doctors said they had no idea why I misscarried and offered there condolances and sent me home. A few month later half my hair had fallen out and I was so fatuigued I could not get to appointments. I had such severe nurological symptoms I could not remember who I had met that day or what I was supposed to do. I suspected I was very sick and went to the doctor who ran blood tests showing TSH of 5.6 and a “low normal” T4. She refused to treat me, saying that she “didnt want to disturb the thyroids natural function and to wait and see.” She suggeated that the TSH being that low could not possibly cause the symptoms I had and that she didnt know why my hair was falling out, and that maybe it was early onset female pattern baldness (I’m 27). She said my depression was caused by the misscarrage and that my fatiuge was from not exercising enough. I asked about my low body temprature and was only told: “well you dont have a fever.”
    I want to kill this woman and her supervisor for being so f***ing ignorant.
    Because of my insurance I cant get a different doctor. I was determined to make myself well. I have changed my diet, eleminated chemicals from my home, take reccomended suppliments and bought some ThyroGold.
    I have been doing a little better, (hairloss slowing down, fatuige is better, body temp slightly improved but still not normal.) I’m still not 100% the person I used to be. I just wish I could find a sympathetic doctor who isnt an idiot.

    Reply
  5. Lynn

    Janie – you haven’t done an update lately on dessicated medication that works (or is weak lately). I stopped Erfa and am now on T3 only. I’m really interested in the latest on Cynomel as I use that exclusively and may have to go back to Cytomel if you and your readers are finding Cynomel weaker since it was reformulated. Since this is the time of year to order from overseas (cooler weather for transit) I’d be interested in an update blog on medications that are working for 2013. I am not on facebook so I can’t see what you’ve been saying there. I have asked on the Yahoo pages (T3CM, RT3, Adrenal) but nothing current has been posted on strengths or weaknesses that people have experienced. Your articles helped me the most in the past and I always love when you do those blog article updates on medications. People always seem to comment alot when you do them as well.

    (From Janie: Hang tight. I’ve been on holiday and will be doing an end-of-year report on the STTM blog. :) You should have stayed on Erfa, or SOME Erfa. NDT just gives a more even treatment…reported over and over.)

    Reply
  6. Lynn

    Janie – I had RT3 so I had to get rid of it – that’s the reason for T3 only (it finally cleared last month). I’ll look for your update on Erfa to see if it’s still good and if so I’ll order more from Universal Drugstore to add the T4 back in next year (but I do worry that I’ll get RT3 again). My doc will do whatever I want to try; I could even try Tirosint if that’s a better option. Can’t wait for your end-of-year update!

    (From Janie: FYI: for most, it’s outdated information that you need to get off all NDT to lower high RT3 (or a poor ratio). Many just lower their NDT, and to that, add T3. You also need to focus on correcting the cause of the RT3 problem, which will also correct it. And Erfa is still fabulous…and by itself. No need to add T4 for most.)

    Reply
  7. Lynn

    Janie – When you do your blog update can you talk about the “Recovering with T3″ Circadian Method? I found that book because of you and this website and I’ve been doing the CM since February (it did clear out my RT3). I stoppped the Erfa at that time and started the Cynomel but because they reformulated the Cynomel I’m thinking of using the Erfa for the CM (although I’m concerned that I’m not a good converter and will get RT3 again I’m willing to try Erfa with the CM and will supplement with T3 if it happens again, as you suggest). Alot of people on the Yahoo T3CM page are using dessicated for that method. I’m so happy to hear that Erfa is still fabulous. It’s nice to know that something HASN’T changed in the thyroid world!

    Reply
  8. Nicole

    Dana, I had a similar experience and believe my miscarriage was due to my thyroid dysfunction. I’m still on synthroid and have been for over 5 years. I’m desperately trying to find a good doctor here in New York City who will prescribe me natural desiccated thyroid meds. Can you please share the name of your doctor? I’m so happy for your success.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Nicole, I just found out I have hypothyroidism and my doctor prescribed Armour right away. She is an all around INCREDIBLE doctor who has a more holistic approach and is more into alternative medicine. Her name is Dr. Polina Liss and she is in Manhattan by Union Square. She accepts a lot of insurances, but I don’t think she is accepting any new patients :-/ Doesn’t hurt to call and check!

      Reply
  9. Dana Trentini

    Thank you for all your comments. No woman should lose her baby needlessly to her thyroid condition. Janie’s site Stop The Thyroid Madness is proof that there is hope for us. I felt compelled to warn women when this happened to me. I was so angry that I created Hypothyroid Mom. I am sorry to all the women who have lost their babies.

    For Nicole, I was so low with hypothyroidism symptoms after my miscarriage that I was struggling to stay awake and to care for my son. My husband was so desperate to get me help he was willing to drive wherever. I was given a reference to a great doctor in McLean VA, and we drove 5 hours to see her. She is awesome. Her name is Dr. Adrienne Clamp. So I didn’t look for a doctor in NYC. However, if you find a good one please let me know.

    Reply
  10. nafees

    i am pregnant now and i have hypothyroid i read all the above discussions and i am very worried about my baby help me to come out of this and tell me what i have to do on my pregnancy this is my first pregnancy and i am 1.5 month pregnant. and my age is 27 years old. And advice me what i have eat and not. last 1.5 years i have thyroid please advice me what i have to do now. i don’t want to loose my baby. now my thyroid is normal is 0.14. when i have to repeat the test every 15 days or every 1 month please advice me. i don’t have any idea about that. Please reply for my questions i am waiting for reply as soon as possible.

    Reply
    • Janie

      Hi nafees. I think you need to find a good doctor to work with. You can share the STTM book and information with your doc. P.S. I was hypo with two babies, didn’t know it, and didn’t lose my pregnancies) Work with a doctor!

      Reply
  11. MIchelle

    nafees, Im 4 weeks pregnant and Im hypothyroid. I had my Synthroid upped 8 days before my last period, and got pregnant right after. My endocrinologist is EXCELLENT! She informed that as soon as I get pregnant to make an appt to get my blood tested. She informed that of all the risks to my baby if I dont get my blood checked at specified times throughout my pregnancy, riskis to my baby if I stop taking my meds. Also she told me that my meds may be increased up to 50% from conception to birth. She said I need to maintain a 1-2.8 which for me is the normal range. I will do as Im told and ask any questions I have along the way. I will also do my best to eat right, start to exercise (like walking), take my meds, prenatal vitamins, and think positive. Stress can also cause issues for pregnancy and until Im told I need to worry, I wont! Good Luck

    Reply
    • Jordan

      Michelle, ‘1-2.8′ what exactly, TSH? She is basing your ‘normal’ on a single measurement?

      Reply
    • Karen

      I have had Hashimotos for all four of my pregnancies (2 untreated as doctors told me all my problems were just “normal” pregnancy). The doctor who finally diagnosed me told me that pregnant women should be kept as close to o.5 as possible for tsh. That third pregnancy was so much easier than the others. Then we moved. My new doctor told me he “would treat me according to his knowledge, not mine.” Lets just say that was miserable for me. I am still researching to see others experiences with hypothyroidism and pregnancy.

      Reply
  12. Stef

    I had a stillbirth at 20 weeks this year due to being hypothyroid. I was so exhausted and tired throughout those 20 weeks – hair falling out, no hunger, exhausted. TSH was under 1, T4 was .7, and T3 was 3.0!!! I was on Armour and Cytomel. Doctor did not change meds at all despite my complaints of how I was feeling. I had a placental abruption and delivered at 20 weeks (baby obviously didn’t make it)

    I am on T4 only now (new doctor – an Endo). She has me on synthetic Tirosint and refuses to put me on NDT or Cytomel during pregnancy.

    I cannot find anything stating that Cytomel (T3) or NDT is dangerous or inconsistent during pregnancy. Why is my doctor telling me this? I have nothing to prove it. I am trying to get pregnant now and am so afraid I am going to miscarry again. I feel like crap still and only eat around 800 calories per day (NO appetite at all) and do not lose any weight. My hair is falling out in clumps.

    Reply
  13. Rinkle

    i had also the same problem. I lost my baby in my stomach at the 7th month.. it was horrible. i gave born to a dead child… now after four month completed to my delivery but still not pregnant. what i have to do?

    Reply
  14. Sarah

    Hi, I am 33 weeks pregnant, and just found out I have hypothyroid. My doc put me on synthroid last week.
    I am scared to have a still birth…. My heart goes out to all the women who have lost babies.
    I am in Canada so do not have to pay for doc or insurance – so I can see whichever doc I want. What should I be on instead? What is the meds you guys recommend?

    Reply
  15. Clare

    I am 34 weeks pregnant, and have been having my thyroid monitored by my doctor. I have been on NDT since 2 months before conceiving, and whilst my TSH has stayed consistent, my fT4 has consistently dropped from 15 down now to 8.8 (2 weeks ago) despite continually increasing meds. I started off on 0.25 grain, and now as of yesterday up to 1.25 grain. I have also been taking 1 tablet per day of iodoral 12.5mg, a multi, zinc, vitE, vitD and a couple of other bits and pieces. My zinc levels are really low as well, and have come up slightly since changing to zinc picolinate – but doc wants me to double the current dose.
    I’m worried that my low T4 levels will affect the baby, or give me a higher risk of placental abruption as some other ladies mentioned above. I also have really bad fluid retention since around 18 weeks – could this be linked to low T4 levels too?
    I’m not sure if there is anything else I should be doing…. I don’t have a good feeling about this at all…. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  16. stephanie wheeler

    Hi! I am 23 years old and i was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a year ago. I am currently on levothyroxine 50 mcg. I have experienced 3 miscarriages with the last happening a week ago. I am desperate for advice. My doctor wantsto begin fertility treatment next month for my second attempt at it. I am scared bc i dont want to miscarry again /:
    Should i ask my doctor to up my thyroid medicine or change it? Any advice would help.

    Reply
  17. Lorna

    My first son stopped breathing at birth following a very long, difficult labour. Age 9 he was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. My second’s son’s pregnancy was very scary with bleeding daily from week 22 after a clear 20wk scan. Even being admitted to a top teaching hospital in the UK, nobody tested my thyroid levels. It turned out I had a partial placental abruption & years later, after my son was born & I fought Drs for 5 years about me needing my thyroid treating, I found out that placental abruptions are common in underactive thyroid Mums…!

    Reply

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