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Levothyroxine treatment in euthyroid pregnant women with autoimmune thyroid disease: effects on obstetrical complications.

CONTEXT: Euthyroid women with autoimmune thyroid disease show impairment of thyroid function during gestation and seem to suffer from a higher rate of obstetrical complications.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine whether these women suffer from a higher rate of obstetrical complications and whether levothyroxine (LT(4)) treatment exerts beneficial effects.

DESIGN: This was a prospective study.

SETTING: The study was conducted in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

PATIENTS: A total of 984 pregnant women were studied from November 2002 to October 2004; 11.7% were thyroid peroxidase antibody positive (TPOAb(+)).

INTERVENTION: TPOAb(+) patients were divided into two groups: group A (n = 57) was treated with LT(4), and group B (n = 58) was not treated. The 869 TPOAb(-) patients (group C) served as a normal population control group.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rates of obstetrical complications in treated and untreated groups were measured.

RESULTS: At baseline, TPOAb(+) had higher TSH compared with TPOAb(-); TSH remained higher in group B compared with groups A and C throughout gestation. Free T(4) values were lower in group B than groups A and C after 30 wk and after parturition. Groups A and C showed a similar miscarriage rate (3.5 and 2.4%, respectively), which was lower than group B (13.8%) [P < 0.05; relative risk (RR), 1.72; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.13-2.25; and P < 0.01; RR = 4.95; 95% CI = 2.59-9.48, respectively]. Group B displayed a 22.4% rate of premature deliveries, which was higher than group A (7%) (P < 0.05; RR = 1.66; 95% CI = 1.18-2.34) and group C (8.2%) (P < 0.01; RR = 12.18; 95% CI = 7.93-18.7).

CONCLUSIONS: Euthyroid pregnant women who are positive for TPOAb develop impaired thyroid function, which is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and premature deliveries. Substitutive treatment with LT(4) is able to lower the chance of miscarriage and premature delivery.

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