Foetal programming by maternal thyroid disease

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2015 Dec;83(6):751-8. doi: 10.1111/cen.12744. Epub 2015 Mar 13.


Foetal programming is an emerging concept that links a wide range of exposures during foetal life to later development of disease. Thyroid disorders are common in women of reproductive age, and careful management of pregnant women suffering from thyroid disease is important considering the crucial role of thyroid hormones during early brain development. It is possible that maternal thyroid dysfunction in pregnancy may lead to structural and/or functional changes during foetal brain development. Such an effect could later predispose the offspring to an increased risk of neurologic or psychiatric disease. We recently observed that children born to mothers with thyroid dysfunction had an increased risk of developing seizure disorders, autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders and psychiatric disease in adolescence and young adulthood. In the review, we discuss the concept of potential foetal programming by maternal thyroid disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / genetics
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Seizures / genetics
  • Seizures / pathology
  • Thyroid Diseases / genetics
  • Thyroid Diseases / pathology*
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism


  • Thyroid Hormones