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Postpartum Thyroid Disorders

By Julie S. Moldenhauer, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology in Surgery, The Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit;Attending Physician, The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia;The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

In 4 to 7% of women, the thyroid gland malfunctions during the first 6 months after delivery. Thyroid hormone levels may be high or low, usually temporarily.

Women who have a family history of thyroid disorders or diabetes are particularly susceptible. If women already have a thyroid disorder, such as a goiter or Hashimoto thyroiditis, the disorder may become worse.

Treatment may be required for high thyroid levels (hyperthyroidism) or low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism).