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ABSTRACT: The diagnosis of Graves' disease in pregnancy can be complex because of normal gravid physiologic changes in thyroid hormone metabolism. Mothers with active Graves' disease should be treated with antithyroid drugs, which impact both maternal and fetal thyroid function. Optimally, the lowest possible dose should be used to maintain maternal free thyroxine levels at or just above the upper limit of the normal nonpregnant reference range. Fetal thyroid function depends on the balance between the transplacental passage of thyroid-stimulating maternal antibodies and thyroid-inhibiting antithyroid drugs. Elevated levels of serum maternal anti-TSH-receptor antibodies early in the third trimester are a risk factor for fetal hyperthyroidism and should prompt evaluation of the fetal thyroid by ultrasound, even in women with previously ablated Graves' disease. Maternal antithyroid medication can be modulated to treat fetal hyperthyroidism. Serum TSH and either total or free thyroxine levels should be measured in fetal cord blood at delivery in women with active Graves' disease, and those with a history of (131)I-mediated thyroid ablation or thyroidectomy who have anti-TSH-receptor antibodies. Neonatal thyrotoxicosis can occur in the first few days of life after clearance of maternal antithyroid drug, and can last for several months, until maternal antibodies are also cleared.
Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology & Metabolism 07/2007; 3(6):470-8. DOI:10.1038/ncpendmet0508 · 7.55 Impact Factor