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."
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.