Reduction of miscarriages through universal screening and treatment of thyroid autoimmune diseases

Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2012;74(4):265-73. doi: 10.1159/000343759. Epub 2012 Nov 10.


Background/aims: Universal screening for thyroid diseases during pregnancy is controversial. Targeted screening does not identify all women with thyroid dysfunction. Furthermore, antithyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) are suspected to be associated with an increased risk of fetal loss, premature delivery and hypothyroidism. The aim of our study was to assess the rationale behind universal screening and propose thyroxine treatment in particular cases.

Methods: Between January 2008 and May 2009, 537 consecutive iodine-supplemented women with a singleton pregnancy [441 TPOAb- controls and 96 TPOAb+ women (47 nontreated and 49 treated)] were evaluated using thyroid and obstetric parameters. According to our algorithm for thyroid screening in pregnancy, if thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) exceeded 1 mU/l in TPOAb+ women, 50 µg of levothyroxine (L-T4) was prescribed.

Results: The miscarriage rate was significantly higher in the nontreated TPOAb+ group compared with the treated group (16 vs. 0%; p = 0.02). Compared to the control group, TSH in TPOAb+ patients was higher at the first prenatal visit prior to L-T4 treatment (p < 0.01), while free thyroxine was higher than in the control group after the 20th week (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Our study supports the potential benefit of universal screening and L-T4 treatment for autoimmune thyroid disease during pregnancy. Efforts are still needed to further decrease miscarriage rates.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / prevention & control*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Hashimoto Disease / blood
  • Hashimoto Disease / diagnosis*
  • Hashimoto Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Iodide Peroxidase / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Thyrotropin
  • Iodide Peroxidase
  • Thyroxine

Supplementary concepts

  • Hypothyroidism, Autoimmune