Intended for healthcare professionals

Papers And Short Reports

Postpartum thyroid dysfunction in Mid Glamorgan

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 23 January 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:241
  1. Hedy Y M Fung,
  2. Minosh Kologlu,
  3. Kate Collison,
  4. R John,
  5. C J Richards,
  6. R Hall,
  7. A M McGregor


    A high prevalence of postpartum thyroid dysfunction has been reported in several countries, but there have been no systematic studies of its prevalence in Britain. Among a group of 901 consecutive, unselected pregnant women thyroid autoantibodies were detected in 117 (13%) at booking. The clinical course of postpartum thyroid dysfunction, factors associated with its development, and its likely prevalence were defined in 100 of these women with thyroid antibodies and 120 women with no such antibodies who were matched for age. None of the women had a history of autoimmune thyroid disease. Normal reference ranges for thyroid function during pregnancy and post partum were established in the 120 women negative for thyroid antibodies. On the basis of these observations postpartum thyroid dysfunction was observed in 49 (22%) of the 220 women studied, and the prevalence in the total group of 901 women was estimated to be 16·7%. Thyroid dysfunction, mainly occurring in the first six months post partum, was usually transient and included both destruction induced hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The development of the syndrome was significantly related to smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day and the presence of thyroid microsomal autoantibodies at booking. Of the 16 women with a family history of thyroid disease in whom thyroid microsomal autoantibody activity was detectable at booking, 11 developed thyroid dysfunction. Age, parity, presence of goitre at presentation, duration of breast feeding, and the sex and birth weight of the infant were not associated with the development of postpartum thyroid dysfunction.

    The mood changes experienced by women post partum may in part be associated with altered thyroid function during this time.