OBJECTIVE: To characterise the clinical, biochemical and thyroid antibody profile in women with transient hyperthyroidism of hyperemesis gravidarum.
DESIGN: Prospective observational study.
SETTING: Hospital inpatient gynaecological ward.
POPULATION: Women admitted with hyperemesis gravidarum and found to have hyperthyroidism.
METHODS: Fifty-three women were admitted with hyperemesis gravidarum and were found to have hyperthyroidism. Each woman was examined for clinical signs of thyroid disease and underwent investigations including urea, creatinine, electrolytes, liver function test, thyroid antibody profile and serial thyroid function test until normalisation.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Gestation at which thyroid function normalised, clinical and thyroid antibody profile and pregnancy outcome (birthweight, gestation at delivery and Apgar score at 5 minutes).
RESULTS: Full data were available for 44 women. Free T4 levels normalised by 15 weeks of gestation in the 39 women with transient hyperthyroidism while TSH remained suppressed until 19 weeks of gestation. None of these women were clinically hyperthyroid. Thyroid antibodies were not found in most of them. Median birthweight in the infants of mothers who experienced weight loss of > 5% of their pre-pregnancy weight was lower compared with those of women who did not (P = 0.093). Five women were diagnosed with Graves' disease based on clinical features and thyroid antibody profile.
CONCLUSIONS: In transient hyperthyroidism of hyperemesis gravidarum, thyroid function normalises by the middle of the second trimester without anti-thyroid treatment. Clinically overt hyperthyroidism and thyroid antibodies are usually absent. Apart from a non-significant trend towards lower birthweights in the infants of mothers who experienced significant weight loss, pregnancy outcome was generally good. Routine assessment of thyroid function is unnecessary for women with hyperemesis gravidarum in the absence of any clinical features of hyperthyroidism.