Objective: Pregnancy and the postpartum (PP) period are associated with profound changes of the immunesystem, which largely influence the clinical activity of autoimmune diseases. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of pregnancy and/or the PP period in driving a clinical relapse of hyperthyroidism in patients with Graves' disease (GD) who are in remission after antithyroid drug (ATD) treatment. Data were retrospectively collected from 150 female patients with GD, who were assigned to two groups according to the occurrence of a successful pregnancy after ATD withdrawal. Results: Relapsing Graves' hyperthyroidism was observed in 70 of 125 patients in group I (no pregnancy after ATD withdrawal) (56.0%) and 21 of 25 patients in group II (pregnancy after ATD withdrawal) (84.0%) (P <0.05). Logistic regression analysis (dependent variable: relapse/nonrelapse; covariates: age, positive family history for autoimmune thyroid disease, duration of treatment with ATD, number pregnancies at diagnosis, number of pregnancies after ATD withdrawal) showed a significant effect only for the number of pregnancies after ATD withdrawal [4.257 (1.315-13.782)]. The effect was ascribed to the PP period rather than to pregnancy itself because in 20 of 21 patients of group II (95.2%), the relapse of Graves' hyperthyroidism occurred between 4 and 8 months after delivery. Conclusions: The PP period is significantly associated with a relapse of hyperthyroidism in GD patients being in remission after ATD. We therefore recommend that patients with GD in remission after a course of ATD should have their thyroid function tested at 3 and 6 months after delivery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism