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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Jun 25;6:CD011009. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011009.pub2.

Thyroxine replacement for subfertile women with euthyroid autoimmune thyroid disease or subclinical hypothyroidism.

Author information

1
Reproductive Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, Hathersage Road, Manchester, UK, M13 0JH.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Thyroid disease is the second most common endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. Subclinical hypothyroidism is diagnosed by an elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration with a normal concentration of free thyroxine hormone. Autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD) is diagnosed by the presence of thyroid autoantibodies, regardless of thyroid hormone levels. Thyroxine may be a useful treatment for subfertile women with these two specific types of thyroid disease for improving pregnancy outcomes during assisted reproduction.

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate the efficacy and harms of levothyroxine replacement in subfertile women with subclinical hypothyroidism or with normal thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity (euthyroid autoimmune thyroid disease, or euthyroid ATD) undergoing assisted reproduction.

SEARCH METHODS:

We searched the Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility (CGF) Group specialised register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and two trials registers together with reference checking and contact with study authors and experts in the field to identify studies. We searched for all published and unpublished randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing thyroxine with no treatment or placebo, without language restrictions, from inception to 8 April 2019, and in consultation with the Cochrane CGF Information Specialist.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

We included women undergoing assisted reproduction treatment, meaning both in vitro fertilisation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, with a history of subfertility and with subclinical hypothyroidism or with euthyroid ATD. We excluded women with a previously known clinical hypothyroidism or already taking thyroxine or tri-iodothyronine. RCTs compared thyroxine (levothyroxine) with either placebo or no treatment.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. Our primary review outcomes were live birth and adverse events of thyroxine; our secondary outcomes were clinical pregnancy, multiple pregnancy and miscarriage.

MAIN RESULTS:

The review included four studies with 820 women. The included studies were of overall low risk of bias. Using GRADE methodology, we assessed the quality of evidence for the primary outcomes of this review to be very low- to low-quality evidence. Evidence was downgraded for imprecision as it was based on single, small trials with wide confidence intervals (CI). We were able to include data from three of the four included studies.In one study of women with both subclinical hypothyroidism and positive or negative anti-TPO antibodies (autoimmune disease), the evidence suggested that thyroxine replacement may have improved live birth rate (RR 2.13, 95% CI 1.07 to 4.21; 1 RCT, n = 64; low-quality evidence) and it may have led to similar miscarriage rates (RR 0.11, 95% CI 0.01 to 1.98; 1 RCT, n = 64; low-quality evidence). The evidence suggested that women with both subclinical hypothyroidism and positive or negative anti-TPO antibodies would have a 25% chance of a live birth with placebo or no treatment, and that the chance of a live birth in these women using thyroxine would be between 27% and 100%.In women with normal thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity (euthyroid ATD), treatment with thyroxine replacement compared with placebo or no treatment may have led to similar live birth rates (risk ratio (RR) 1.04, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.29; 2 RCTs, number of participants (n) = 686; I2 = 46%; low-quality evidence) and miscarriage rates (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.47 to 1.46, 2 RCTs, n = 686, I2 = 0%; low-quality evidence). The evidence suggested that women with normal thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity would have a 31% chance of a live birth with placebo or no treatment, and that the chance of a live birth in these women using thyroxine would be between 26% and 40%.Adverse events were rarely reported. One RCT reported 0/32 in the thyroxine replacement group and 1/32 preterm births in the control group in women diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism and positive or negative anti-TPO antibodies. One RCT reported 21/300 preterm births in the thyroxine replacement group and 19/300 preterm births in the control group in women diagnosed with positive anti-TPO antibodies. None of the RCTs reported on other maternal pregnancy complications, foetal complications or adverse effects of thyroxine.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

We could draw no clear conclusions in this systematic review due to the very low to low quality of the evidence reported.

PMID:
31236916
PMCID:
PMC6591496
[Available on 2020-06-25]
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD011009.pub2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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