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J Endocrinol Invest. 2003 Apr;26(4):301-4.

Thyroid function in breast-fed infants is not affected by methimazole-induced maternal hypothyroidism: results of a retrospective study.

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Endocrine Research Center, Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, I.R. Iran.


For many years, breast-feeding was forbidden if methimazole (MMI) was being used. However, a few studies have demonstrated the relative safety of MMI. The purpose of this study was to evaluate thyroid function of breast-fed infants whose lactating mothers became hypothyroid while taking methimazole. Between 1990 and 2001, 134 thyrotoxic lactating mothers received MMI while breast-feeding. MMI therapy was initiated between 2-8 months postpartum, 10-30 mg for the first month and 5-10 mg from the second until the twelfth month. In 16 mothers, TSH was increased at the end of one month of MMI therapy (Group 1). Infants of 18 mothers whose serum TSH was normal at the end of the first month were included as controls (Group 2). Mothers and their infants were clinically evaluated and serum T4, T3 and TSH were measured before and at 1, 2, 4, 8 and 12 months after MMI therapy. Serum MMI was measured in 8 infants 2 h after breast-feeding. Mean +/- SD of FT4I and FT3I were not statistically different between the two groups of mothers before MMI therapy. In all 34 mothers thyroid indices decreased one month after MMI therapy; FT4I: Group 1 from 19.8 +/- 4.3 to 6.0 +/- 4.8 (p<0.001) and Group 2 from 20.3 +/- 4.7 to 11.4 +/- 4.1 (p<0.001); FT3I: Group 1 from 602 +/- 56 to 146 +/- 52 (p<0.001) and Group 2 from 562 +/- 42 to 186 +/- 39 (p<0.001). The difference in FT4I, FT3I and TSH (20 +/- 18 vs 2.1 +/- 1.1 mU/l, p<0.001) between the 2 groups was significant at the end of the first month of MMI therapy. There was no significant difference in thyroid function of infants of these two groups one month after MMI therapy and all tests remained within the normal range during 12 months of treatment of their lactating mothers. Serum MMI levels were less than 0.03 in 6 and 0.03 and 0.035 microg/ml in the other 2 infants. The results further indicate the safety of MMI therapy in breast-feeding thyrotoxic women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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