This website is dedicated to the millions of thyroid patients who are being ignored and left to suffer unnecessarily, and to healthcare practitioners, who want to better serve those patients.

Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy

Studies have documented that mercury causes hypothyroidism,50. 84, 390, 407 damage of thyroid RNA,458 autoimmune thyroiditis369, 382, 91 and impairment of conversion of thyroid T4 hormone to the active T3 form.369, 382, 390, 407, 50d These studies and clinical experience indicate that mercury and toxic metal exposures appear to be the most common cause of hypothyroidism and the majority treated by metals detoxification recover or significantly improve.503 Thousands of tests at medical labs and many studies have documented that dental amalgam is the largest source of mercury in most adults that have several amalgam fillings, with exposures much above government health guidelines.501 Studies have also documented that for most mothers who have several amalgam fillings, the mothers dental fillings are the largest source of mercury in the fetus and a significant source in infants.502

The estimated prevalence of hypothyroidism from a large federal health survey, NHANES III, was 4.6%, but the incidence was twice as high for women as for men and many with sub clinical hypothyroidism are not aware of their condition.3a Another large study found that 11.7% tested had abnormal thyroid TSH levels with 9.5% being hypothyroid and 2.1% hyperthyroid.3b According to survey tests, 8 to 10 % of untreated women were found to have thyroid imbalances so the actual level of hypothyroidism is higher than commonly recognized.508 Even larger percentages of women had elevated levels of antithyroglobulin(anti-TG) or antithyroid peroxidase antibody(anti-TP). Tests have found approx. 30% of pregnant women to have low free T4 in the first trimeste.509b.

Thyroid hormones are of primary importance for the perinatal development of the central nervous system, and for normal function of the adult brain.10a Hypothyroidism of the adults causes most frequently dementia and depression. Nearly all the hyperthyroid patients show minor psychiatric signs, and sometimes psychosis, dementia, confusion state, depression, apathetic thyrotoxicosis, thyrotoxic crisis, seizures, pyramidal signs, or chorea occur.10a These hormones primarily regulate the transcription of specific target genes. They increase the cortical serotonergic neurotransmission, and play an important role in regulating central noradrenergic and GABA function.

Studies indicate that slight thyroid deficiency/imbalance(sub clinical) during the perinatal period can result in delayed neuropsychological development in neonate and child or permanent neuropsychiatric damage in the developing fetus or autism or mental retardation.10, 509, 511 Low first trimester levels of free T4 and positive levels of anti-TP antibodies in the mother during pregnancy have been found to result in significantly reduced Iqs509e and causes psychomotor deficits.509f Women with the highest levels of thyroid-stimulating-hormone(TSH) and lowest free levels of thyroxin 17 weeks into their pregnancies were significantly more likely to have children who tested at least one standard deviation below normal on an IQ test taken at age 8.509a Based on study findings, maternal hypothyroidism appears to play a role in at least 15% of children whose IQs are more than 1 standard deviation below the mean, millions of children. Overt autoimmune thyroiditis is preceded by a rise in levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies. “Collectively, reports show that 30-60% of women positive for TPO antibodies in pregnancy develop postpartum thyroiditis,” the researchers point out,561, 8 calling it “a strong association.” Without treatment, many of the women with thyroiditis go on to develop overt clinical hypothyroidism as they age and, eventually, associated complications such as cardiovascular disease. About 7.5% of pregnant women develop thyroiditis after birth.8 Studies have also established a connection between maternal thyroid disease and babies born with heart defects.509h

Infants of women with hypothyroxinemia at 12 weeks’ gestation had significantly lower scores on the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale orientation index compared with subjects.10b Regression analysis showed that first-trimester maternal free thyroid hormone T4 was a significant predictor of orientation scores. This study confirmed that maternal hypothyroxinemia constitutes a serious risk factor for neurodevelopmental difficulties that can be identified in neonates as young as 3 weeks of age.

Mercury (especially mercury vapor from dental amalgam or organic mercury) rapidly crosses the blood brain barrier and is stored preferentially in the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, hypothalamus, and occipital cortex in direct proportion to the number and extent of dental amalgam surfaces,14, 19, 85, 99, 273, 274, 407 and likewise rapidly crosses the placenta and accumulates in the fetus including the fetal brain and hormone glands at levels commonly higher than the level in the mother.20, 22-27 Milk from mothers with 7 or more mercury amalgam dental fillings was found to have levels of mercury approximately 10 times that of amalgam free mothers.22b The milk sampled ranged from 0.2 to 57 ug/L. In a population of German women, the concentration of mercury in early breast milk ranged from 0.2 to 20.3 ug/L.26 A Japanese study found that the average mercury level in samples tested increased 60% between 1980 and 1990.25 The study found that prenatal Hg exposure is correlated with lower scores in neurodevelopmental screening, but more so in the linguistic pathway.25 The level of mercury in umbilical cord blood, meconium, and placenta is usually higher than that in mother’s blood.23 25

The thyroid gland has iodine binding sites where the iodine needed for its function is obtained. For those with chronic mercury exposure the mercury occupies some of the iodine binding sites, blocking full utilization of iodine by the thyroid, in addition to the direct damage to the thyroid since mercury is highly cytotoxic.392, 394, etc

Alterations of cortical neuronal migration and cerebellar Purkinje cells have been observed in autism. Neuronal migration, via reelin regulation, requires triiodothyronine (T3) produced by deiodination of thyroxine (T4) by fetal brain deiodinases.407 Experimental animal models have shown that transient intrauterine deficits of thyroid hormones (as brief as 3 days) result in permanent alterations of cerebral cortical architecture reminiscent of those observed in brains of patients with autism. Early maternal hypothyroxinemia resulting in low T3 in the fetal brain during the period of neuronal cell migration (weeks 8-12 of pregnancy) may produce morphological brain changes leading to autism. Insufficient dietary iodine intake and a number of environmental antithyroid and goitrogenic agents such as mercury, soy, and peanuts can affect maternal thyroid function during pregnancy. The thyroid gland has iodine binding sites where the iodine needed for its function is obtained. For those with chronic mercury exposure the mercury occupies some of the iodine binding sites, blocking full utilization of iodine by the thyroid, in addition to the direct damage to the thyroid since mercury is highly cytotoxic.

Mercury can have significant effects on thyroid function even though the main hormone levels remain in the normal range, so the usual thyroid tests are not adequate in such cases. Prenatal methylmercury exposure severely affects the activity of selenoenzymes, including glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and 5-iodothyronine deiodinases(5-Di and 5′-DI) in the fetal brain, even though thyroxine(T4) levels are normal(390de). Another mechanism by which mercury exerts such effects is mercurys effects on selenium levels which are required for conversion of T4 to T3.392, 390d Gpx activity is severely inhibited, while 5-DI levels are decreased and 5′-DI increased in the fetal brain, similar to hypothyroidism. Thus normal thyroid tests will not pick up this condition.

Mercury reduces the bloods ability to transport oxygen to fetus and transport of essential nutrients including amino acids, glucose, magnesium, zinc, selenium and Vit B12;43, 96, 198, 263, 264, 338, 339, 392, 427depresses enzyme isocitric dehydrogenase (ICD) in fetus, causes reduced iodine uptake, autoimmune thyroiditis,& hypothyroidism.50, 91, 212, 222, 369, 382, 392, 394, 407, 35 Minerals such as calcium, zinc, and manganese are also necessary for thyroid health and hormone production, and their absorption is blocked by mercury exposure. Because of the evidence of widespread effects on infants, the American Assoc. of Clinical Endocrinologists advises that all women considering becoming pregnant should get a serum thyrotropin test so that hypothyroidism can be diagnosed and treated early.558, 7b Since mercury and toxic metals are common causes of hypothyroidism, another test that should be considered is a hair element test for mercury or toxic metal exposures and essential mineral imbalances.

References

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AACE clinical practice guidelines for the evaluation and treatment of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Endocr Pract., 1995, 1: 54-62.

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