Objective: To compare the effects of pregnancy on the serum free thyroxine (FT4) levels in two cohorts of primary hypothyroid women treated with different levothyroxine (L-T4) doses before gestation. Design and method: Twenty-five women with compensated hypothyroidism of different aetiology (thyroidectomized and Hashimoto's thyroiditis) were enrolled in this prospective study. The women were receiving substitutive doses of L-T4 and were anticipating pregnancy. They were assigned to two groups: 14 patients (group I) were switched to partially suppressive treatment while 11 patients (group II) continued the same therapeutic regimen. Results: Pre-conceptional thyroid function evaluation demonstrated significantly higher FT4 and lower TSH in group I (P <0.001, for both hormones) and comparable free 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (FT3) levels. The first post-conception thyroid function evaluation occurred at a median time of 6 (5-8) and 7 (5-9) weeks of gestation, for groups I and II respectively (P <0.05); all women in group I showed adequate serum FT4 levels while three patients in group II showed low-normal FT4 levels and one case was below normal levels. Statistical analysis demonstrated significantly higher frequencies (0% vs 36.4%; P <0.05) of low-normal FT4 levels in patients receiving substitutive doses of L-T4. None of the Hashimoto's-affected patients showed low or low-normal serum FT4 levels regardless of their therapeutic regimen. Conclusion: Our results suggest that in hypothyroid women anticipating pregnancy (with serum TSH in the lower quartile of normal range), the pre-conception adjustment of L-T4 doses may result in adequate maternal thyroid function up to the first post-conception evaluation. The procedure seems safe and inexpensive; it may be a worthwhile treatment, at least in thyroidectomized women, in view of the well-known potential effects of even marginal maternal thyroid hypofunction on the subsequent IQ of the progeny.
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