Oncology & Immunology

Expert reports about Oncology & Immunology


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE GRAVES DISEASE DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

                                                                                                                                                

What is Graves disease during pregnancy?

Graves disease is an autoimmune condition. Named for the 19th-century physician Robert Graves who first described it, Graves disease is characterized by hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), due to the immune system producing antibodies (immunoglobulins) that stimulate the thyroid to release too much of the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). This accelerates your metabolism, producing a range of symptoms and other effects throughout your body. The effects of excessive thyroid hormone levels can include fertility difficulties, but if you do become pregnant your hyperthyroidism can worsen, because of increasing levels of the pregnancy hormone, beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (ß-hCG), whose chemical structure is similar to that of another hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), whose job is to stimulate the thyroid gland when stimulation is needed. Levels of ß-hCG peak at the end of the first trimester, however, causing increased thyroid activity. An increase in levels of estrogen also accelerates the thyroid. The hormonal stimulation of the thyroid is good if everything is working correctly in the body, but it is bad if you are already hyperthyroid for some other reason, such as Graves disease.


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