Pregnancy outcome in women treated with methimazole or propylthiouracil during pregnancy

E. Gianetti, L. Russo, F. Orlandi, L. Chiovato, M. Giusti, S. Benvenga, M. Moleti, F. Vermiglio, P. E. Macchia, M. Vitale, C. Regalbuto, M. Centanni, E. Martino, P. Vitti, M. Tonacchera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Control of thyroid function in hyperthyroid women during pregnancy is based on antithyroid drugs (ATD) [propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole (MMI)]. While a teratogenic effect has been suggested for MMI and, more recently, for PTU, a clear demonstration is still lacking. Aim of this study was to assess the safety of ATD during pregnancy. Methods: A total of 379 pregnancies were retrospectively recruited in eight Italian Departments of Endocrinology and divided in five groups: (1) MMI-treated and euthyroid throughout pregnancy (n = 89); (2) MMI-treated and hyperthyroid on at least two occasions (n = 35); (3) PTU-treated women and euthyroid throughout pregnancy (n = 32); (4) PTU-treated women and hyperthyroid on at least two occasions (n = 20); and (5) non-ATD-treated (n = 203). Data on maternal thyroid function, miscarriages, type of delivery, neonatal weight, length and TSH, perinatal complications and congenital malformation were analyzed. Results: The gestational age at delivery, the rate of vaginal delivery, neonatal weight, length and neonatal TSH did not significantly differ among groups. In all groups, the rates of spontaneous miscarriage and of major congenital malformations were not higher than in the general population. No newborns were born with a phenotype similar to those described in the "MMI embryopathy". Conclusions: While a clear demonstration of a teratogenic effect of MMI is currently lacking, it seems reasonable to follow the current guidelines and advice for PTU treatment in hyperthyroid women during the first trimester of pregnancy. Further, large and prospective worldwide studies will be needed to fully clarify the issue of ATD safety during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-985
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 26 2015


  • Embryopathy
  • Graves' diseases
  • Methimazole
  • Pregnancy
  • Propylthiouracil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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