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Thyroid hormones play a crucial role during fetal development, and are especially important for growth and neurodevelopment in utero. The maternal physiological alterations that occur during pregnancy help regulate an adequate supply to the growing fetus, and pregnancy provides a “stress test” to the maternal thyroid gland. Thyroid disease is the second most common cause of endocrine dysfunction in women of childbearing age, after diabetes. Hypothyroidism is the more prevalent thyroid disorder, present in up to 2–5% of pregnancies, while hyperthyroidism (usually Graves’ disease) complicates another ~0.2%. It can often be challenging to diagnose and manage, because many of the symptoms of the disease are common symptoms in pregnancy. Physiological changes in pituitary and thyroid hormone levels may add complexity to the diagnosis, and a clear understanding of these changes is needed when managing women with suspected or known thyroid disease. The management of hypo- and hyperthyroid states is discussed in detail in this chapter, with an overview of thyroid cancer management.
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