Maternal thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy can predict children’s behavioral problems

Thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy can predict emotional and behavioral problems in preschool boys, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Thyroid hormones are crucial for the normal development of the baby’s brain and nervous system. During the first trimester – the first three months of pregnancy – the baby depends on the supply of the mother with thyroid hormone, which comes through the placenta. Maternal thyroid hormone levels, including thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4), change dynamically during pregnancy, and both high and low levels of maternal thyroid hormones can affect children’s behavioral development.

Our findings emphasize the importance of careful monitoring and management of maternal thyroid function during pregnancy. This study presents a new perspective in the early intervention of children’s emotional and behavioral problems. “

Kun Huang, PhD, Anhui Medical University, Anhui, China

Researchers studied 1,860 pairs of mothers and their children from the Ma’anshan maternity cohort in China. Researchers have repeatedly measured thyroid hormone levels during the first, second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The researchers followed the families when the children were 4 years old and asked them to fill out a checklist to assess their behavioral problems.

Researchers have found that boys born to mothers with high levels of thyroid hormones during pregnancy are more likely to withdraw, have behavioral problems and be anxious or depressed. Moderate and low levels of thyroid hormones are associated with aggressive behavior in preschool boys.


Reference in the magazine:

Oral., et al. (2022) The gender-specific effect of maternal thyroid hormone trajectories on the behavioral development of preschool children: a study of the cohort at birth. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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