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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, The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Attending Physician, 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).