Mercy's Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Discusses New Guidelines Re: Hypothyroidism Dangers In Pregnancy

December 5, 2011
Mercy Bunting Center

Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mercy

Many doctors are testing pregnant women for a hormone that could identify hypothyroidism, but whether that's a good idea is being questioned.

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is underactive. The symptoms can be weight gain, brittle hair and fatigue.

In pregnancy, thyroid hormone levels usually drop anyway, doctors said, so many ob/gyns now test pregnant women routinely for thyroid stimulating hormone, or THS, to see if there is an abnormality.

But some new guidelines are questioning whether that should be done. The American College of OB/GYNs does not recommend testing, but the American Thyroid Association said it should at least be considered.

According to Dr. Robert Atlas, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercy, there are few down sides to treating hypothyroidism in pregnancy.

"There is a big up side. We don't think there's any risk involved in treating someone in pregnancy. The problem is, like anything, once you start giving a medication, it's hard to stop," Dr. Atlas said. "I think it's really an individual choice between a doctor and a patient until we get definitive information about how best to do this."

Rukhsana Shaik gave birth to her first son, Ahil, last week. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism two years ago.

"I had fatigue, I felt lazy and sluggish, so I went for a yearly physical, and that's where I came to know I had hypothyroid," she said.

Shaik got pregnant easily, which can be difficult for someone who has hypothyroidism. She said she didn't have to change her dosage, and she now has a healthy son.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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