News Flash: Important Pregnancy Check
Considering the results of a recent study, moms-to-be may want to ask their doctors for a blood test to check their thyroid function. Researchers at the Foundation for Blood Research, in Scarborough, Maine, have found that untreated hypothyroidism -- when the body produces too little thyroid hormone -- may permanently imperil fetal brain development.
In the study, school-age children of women who had untreated thyroid disease during pregnancy performed less well on 15 psychological exams, including an IQ test, than did children of women with normal thyroid function, says James Haddow, M.D., the study's lead author. "About twenty percent of the children of women with untreated hypothyroidism had IQs below eighty-five, compared to five percent of the controls," he says. Generally, a score of 85 is a sign of a mild impairment.
Hypothyroidism strikes at least one of every one hundred women of childbearing age, and causes symptoms including fatigue, depression, and weight gain. There is no preventing the disease, but treatment can regulate the condition and prevent potential damage to a fetus. Haddow suggests all women who either are or plan to become pregnant get the test. --Mary Mertz
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