3 years ago

Routine serum thyroid-stimulating hormone testing-optimizing pre-conception health or generating toxic knowledge?

Bhide P, Bhattacharya S, Pundir J, Maheshwari A
Monitoring subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) in women is believed to be important in terms of preventing overt hypothyroidism and optimizing the health and cognitive development of their children. Current systematic reviews have suggested an association between maternal SCH and adverse obstetric and neonatal outcomes. However, initiating the administration of thyroxine during pregnancy has failed to demonstrate appreciable health benefits. Hence there are calls by professional endocrine societies for optimizing serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels pre-conception. The strategy of ensuring that serum TSH levels are below 2.5 mIU/l during the pre-conception period has generated considerable uncertainty partly because the recommended level of <2.5 mIU/l is lower than those previously used to define the condition and partly due to uncertainty about the best screening programme clinicians can use in this context. Recalibrating the expected normal peri-conceptional range of serum TSH (<2.5 mIU/l), will have a significant impact on clinical services due to an inevitable increase in numbers of women diagnosed with SCH who will need to be investigated, treated and monitored. Serum TSH fulfils the criteria for a screening test and oral thyroxine is an inexpensive drug. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that screening cannot be undertaken in all women planning to conceive. Yet this approach will miss women whose pregnancies are unplanned and generate anxiety, further tests and many more prescriptions for thyroxine, coupled with the need for lifelong monitoring in affected women. A number of existing and ongoing randomized trials have evaluated the use of thyroxine in women with infertility or miscarriage with detectable thyroid auto-antibodies. These are unlikely to answer the question whether routine pre-conception testing for SCH in asymptomatic women is beneficial. Routine screening of women at risk of pregnancy and optimization of their thyroid status could result in significant health benefits for their offspring. Alternatively this approach could prove to be an expensive way of generating toxic knowledge resulting in anxiety, increased drug use and potential harm. Only large, appropriately designed studies can reveal the answer.

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28854714

DOI: PubMed:28854714

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.