Last year I had a bit of a rant about the thyroid problem I developed after having Evelyn and the apparent ignorance of the condition shown by the medical professionals involved in my care. So it was interesting to read about a study conducted by a team in Prague (you see where that pun came from now?) looking into screening for the condition in early pregnancy.
The team followed healthy women who tested positive for a particular antibody in the early stages of pregnancy and found that 36% of them had developed thyroid disorders by the time their babies were 22 months old. The investigators concluded that all women found to be positive for the antibody in pregnancy should be routinely monitored postpartum so that any thyroid problems can be quickly picked up and treated.
This was a fairly small study and didn't get a great deal of coverage but I was very interested to read the BBC article about it in which a spokesperson for the Royal College of Midwives seemed rather skeptical of the need for thyroid screening. I agree that a larger study is needed, but not with her assertion that:
"In the UK we have a comprehensive programme of antenatal care from as early as possible in pregnancy.
"This gives us a good baseline to monitor women throughout pregnancy and immediately after pregnancy."
At least in our part of London you don't normally see anyone for the first three months of pregnancy and my thyroid condition was picked up by a friend many months after Evelyn was born having been completely missed by all the medical professionals I'd already seen. Had she not spotted it I suspect it would never have been diagnosed.
Now there are far worse conditions to have but it can have a big impact on your ability to cope with the already demanding task of looking after a small baby. More seriously, if untreated, it can cause problems for future pregnancies included an increased chance of miscarriage in those unmonitored first months.
I had to give a heck of a lot of blood samples during pregnancy, sadly non of them were for the antibody that could have indicated this potential problem, I for one would have been quite happy to have given up a few more mls and had a bit more monitoring to have avoided 9 months of feeling hopeless, old and exhausted.