Dr. David Clark, DC -Center for Low Thyroid Solutions Durham, NC- explains a hidden cause of why many women suffer miscarriages and premature births.
I want to talk to you for a minute about thyroid autoantibodies and the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth.
Many women that come to see me are suffering with low thyroid symptoms, and they've also had some problems with miscarriages, infertility and premature births.
Some of these women can’t get pregnant. Some can’t implant a fetus. Some can’t carry it to term.
Over the last year or so, new research has shown the clear association between thyroid antibodies and the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth.
In fact, a recent study showed that
TPO antibodies (one of the antibodies that can be high when you have Hashimoto’s) can increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth by two to three times.
That is huge news for all women.
What they’re not clear about --and I’m going to explain this to you-- is exactly why there would be this connection.
Well, there’s two reasons.
- As a mother, If you have TPO antibodies that means you have a real risk for becoming hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism itself can cause miscarriages and preterm birth.
- If you have TPO antibodies, you have ONE autoimmune disorder, and your immune system is attacking ONE tissue....it can now easily attack something else, like a developing fetus.
So if you don’t understand what Hashimoto’s is, here’s a short primer...
Your immune system targets your thyroid gland and destroys the gland, and kills the gland's ability to make thyroid hormones. It actually destroys pieces of your thyroid gland. You lose them and they never come back.
Well, over time you become hypothyroid. You can’t make enough thyroid hormones. Being hypothyroid is a huge risk in pregnancy, and that in itself could cause you to not be able to carry a baby to term.
Now, another thing that can happen is if you’ve got TPO antibodies, you have an autoimmune condition...so you could have other autoimmune conditions (which is really just all the same autoimmune condition.)
You could have antiphospholipid syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus etc. When you try to carry the baby to term, your immune system mistakenly attacks the developing fetus, and that’s why you have a miscarriage and you can’t carry to term.
So there’s two different reasons why miscarriage and premature birth might be happening.
What I find really interesting is when you start reading the papers about this topic, they start saying ...well, there’s no reason to screen healthy women who are thinking about getting pregnant.
Think about that.
There’s no reason to screen healthy women who are thinking about getting pregnant for Hashimoto’s? That’s a huge mistake.
How do you know they’ve got Hashimoto’s?
A lot of women are walking around right now without overt low thyroid symptoms of depression, constipation, hair loss, brain fog but still have Hashimoto's.
There’s a lot of them walking around like that because Hashimoto’s can present in a lot of different ways. They’re walking around feeling good, but they’ve actually got Hashimoto’s. It's happening. To just blanket say well, they don’t need to be screened, I think that’s a real huge mistake.
Now, one of the other things going on in research is they’ve been asking is there any kind of a treatment that we can do for these women that have Hashimoto’s and will it work?
Some studies have shown if you give a Levothyroxine to a woman who’s got Hashimoto’s during pregnancy, it could have a good outcome. But....
that’s only if her rher risk of miscarriage was because she was going to be hypothyroid, not because of that other reason where she has a heightened state of autoimmunity.
So what’s the takeaway message for all of this?
- If you’ve got a history of miscarriages --whether you’ve got low thyroid symptoms or not--you need to be checked for Hashimoto’s. You need to run a TPO antibodies and a TGB antibodies. The problem is most doctors aren’t going to want to run it unless you’ve got an elevated TSH aready, or you’ve got some of these hypothyroid symptoms like: depression, constipation, hair loss, weight gain even though you don’t eat much and exercise, high cholesterol. You’re going to have to be a real advocate for yourself or you’re going to have to find someone who understands what I'm talking about. It’s not a crime to run a test on someone and see if they’ve got this problem.
- The other thing is...that if you have any low thyroid symptoms, you’ve got to get checked for Hashimoto’s because it’s the No. 1 cause of low thyroid in America. The number of women that I see with miscarriages, infertility, preterm births-- that also have low thyroid symptoms--is staggering. If you could read the emails I get you'd be floored.
So you’ve really got to be an advocate for yourself and realize that, No. 1, if you’ve got Hashimoto’s you’re going to be at risk for having a hard time conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term.
You’ve got to find someone who understands Hashimoto’s from a functional perspective and knows what to look for....
- What triggers Hashimoto’s
- What perpetuates it
- What you can do without drugs to calm everything down.
That will be key for you being able to have a healthy pregnancy and be able to avoid the risks of miscarriage and preterm birth that are clearly connected to having thyroid autoimmunity.
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© 2011 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. David Clark, DC
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist