Practice Variation in the Care of Subclinical Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy: A National Survey of Physicians in the United States

J Endocr Soc. 2019 Aug 1;3(10):1892-1906. doi: 10.1210/js.2019-00196. eCollection 2019 Oct 1.


Evidence regarding the effects of subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) on adverse pregnancy outcomes and the ability of levothyroxine (LT4) treatment to prevent them is unclear. Available recommendations for the management of SCH during pregnancy are inconsistent. We conducted a nationwide survey among physicians assessing their knowledge of and current practices in the care of SCH in pregnancy and compared these with the most recent American Thyroid Association (ATA) recommendations. In this cross-sectional study, an online survey was sent to active US members of the Endocrine Society. This survey included questions about current practices and clinical scenarios aimed at assessing diagnostic evaluation, initiation of therapy, and follow-up in pregnant women with SCH. In total, 162 physicians completed the survey. ATA guidelines were reviewed by 76%, of whom 53% indicated that these guidelines actually changed their practice. Universal screening was the preferred screening approach (54%), followed by targeted screening (30%). For SCH diagnosis, most respondents (52%) endorsed a TSH level >2.5 mIU/L as a cutoff, whereas 5% endorsed a population-based cutoff as recommended by the ATA. The decision to initiate treatment varied depending on the specific clinical scenario; however, when LT4 was initiated, respondents expected a small/very small reduction in maternofetal complications. In conclusion, despite recently updated guidelines, there is still wide variation in clinical practices regarding the care of women with SCH in pregnancy. Highly reliable randomized trials are required to evaluate the effectiveness of the most uncertain treatment practices on the care of pregnant women with SCH.

Keywords: guideline; hypothyroidism; pregnancy; subclinical; survey.