Doctors unnecessarily let 50,000 healthy babies die each year by ignoring thyroid issues in pregnant women.
Missing a low thyroid, even if the tests are normal, increases the risk of miscarriage by over 500% and this risk was almost entirely eliminated by simply giving thyroid hormone. This is one of the most common causes of repeated miscarriages and premature births. A simple Anti-TPO antibody blood test will identify if you should get thyroid (though I think all pregnant women with fatigue or a history of miscarriages as well as women with unexplained infertility should get thyroid hormone).
Here are the numbers from this study from the prestigious Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism:
- The researchers checked 984 pregnant women for thyroid hormone levels and autoimmune thyroid disease (called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis—suspected if the TPO antibody test is positive).
- Around 1 in 8 pregnant women (11.7%) had a positive TPO antibody test with normal thyroid hormone levels (usually totally missed or ignored by most physicians). Half of these were given thyroid hormone and the other half were not.
- Women with these tests had a 13.8% chance of miscarrying (vs 2.4% with normal tests).
- By giving safe and cheap thyroid hormone, the risk of miscarrying dropped by 72%!
- Those with the TPO test positive had a whopping 22.4% risk of premature birth—which dropped to the normal risk by simply giving thyroid.
With over 4 million live births a year in the USA, this means not checking a TPO antibody and addressing with thyroid if positive causes over 48,204 unnecessary miscarriages a year!!! And as many if not most miscarriages occur before people know they are pregnant, this is a gross underestimate.
It also causes 104,832 premature deliveries in this group. If given thyroid hormone it drops to 32,760. This means 72,072 UNNECESSARY premature deliveries a year (and likely thousands of deaths) because some physicians won't address low thyroid with normal tests. As reported by the March of Dimes, the average cost of a premature baby's hospital stay is about $58,000. That's $4 billion lost when screening, and addressing the 4 million USA pregnancies could be done for under $400 million—a 90% cost saving.
Simply checking this simple anti-TPO antibody blood test in all pregnant women and addressing with thyroid hormone if positive could save the life of over 50,000 babies a year and save over $3.5 billion a year—in the USA alone. And these numbers are the tip of the iceberg. Not addressing the low thyroid leaves the children with learning disabilities and a host of problems.
This is simply one more example of how critical it is that we "Heal Our Healthcare System!"
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To learn more about Hypothyroidism, see my article "Thyroid Hormone Deficiency—An Overview."
Also see my article on "The Cost of Missing an Underactive Thyroid."