Autoimmune thyroid disease during pregnancy

Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2018 Jul;6(7):575-586. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(17)30402-3. Epub 2017 Dec 12.


Understanding of changes in thyroid function and the consequences of thyroid disease during pregnancy has rapidly grown in the past two decades, and revised American Thyroid Association guidelines on this topic were published in 2017. This Review explores the association between thyroid autoimmunity and complications during and after pregnancy. Thyroid autoimmunity refers to the presence of antibodies to thyroperoxidase or thyroglobulin, or thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibodies (TRAbs), or a combination of these, and is present in up to 18% of pregnant women. Thyroid antibodies in pregnant women with normal functioning thyroids (ie, euthyroid) have been associated with several complications, including miscarriage and premature delivery. Treatments to improve pregnancy outcomes are being studied. Whether thyroid antibodies are associated with infertility and assisted reproductive technology outcomes is unclear; although, treatment with low doses of levothyroxine, which is usually used to treat hypothyroidism, can be considered in such situations. Additionally, thyroid antibodies have been associated with other neonatal and maternal complications. All these associations require confirmation in larger prospective studies, and their pathogenic mechanisms need to be better understood. Post-partum thyroiditis is substantially more frequent in women who have thyroid antibodies during pregnancy than in those who do not have thyroid antibodies; however, whether treatment can prevent post-partum thyroiditis in women who are or have been antibody positive is unknown. Finally, TRAbs cross the placenta from the mother to the fetus and can cause fetal or neonatal hyperthyroidism. Therefore, women who are positive for TRAbs during pregnancy should be monitored.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating / immunology
  • Infertility, Female / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / immunology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premature Birth / immunology
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications*
  • Thyroid Diseases / immunology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating