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Horm Res. 1991;36(5-6):196-202.

Maternal thyroid function in early and late pregnancy.

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  • 1Italian Auxologic Center, IRCCS, University of Milan.


Thyroid function was investigated during and after pregnancy in 12 healthy euthyroid women. During pregnancy, serum total T4 (TT4) levels were significantly elevated and nearly stable, while thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) levels progressively increased till the 7th month. A slight elevation, though not significant, of free T4 (fT4) was recorded in early pregnancy. In the following months, fT4, free T3 (fT3) and the T4/TBG ratio progressively diminished, reaching a plateau at the 7th month. Serum TSH levels, measured by an ultrasensitive immunofluorometric assay, were comparable to postpartum values during the first trimester and showed a moderate upward trend with the progression of pregnancy. The evaluation of 24-hour TSH profiles was performed in 5 women during the first trimester of pregnancy. In all women, the circadian rhythm of TSH was present with a normal nocturnal surge, though anticipated in 1 case. In summary (1) during the first trimester of pregnancy, the increased thyroid activity does not seem to be only sustained by pituitary TSH which remains unmodified; the negative correlation between TSH and hCG levels might suggest that hCG also stimulates the gland to increase thyroid hormone output, and the presence of a normal TSH circadian rhythm indicates that the central mechanism of neuroregulation of the pituitary-thyroid axis is preserved in early pregnancy, and (2) in late pregnancy, a marked decrease in free thyroid hormone fractions is accompanied by serum TSH levels still in the normal range, indicating a modification of thyroid homeostasis which might recognize various etiological factors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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