What is Postpartum Thyroiditis?

This condition was first described in1948 by a New Zealand general practitioner. It is a sporadic form of transient thyrotoxicosis that occurs in 3%-17% of women in the 12 months following delivery. It is of variable severity, self-limiting with no eye signs. The thyroid swelling is usually insignificant.

There can be atoxic and a hypothyroid phase. Prior to returning to normal the patient is often mildly hypothyroid. In the toxic phase standard anti-thyroid treatment is completely contra-indicated although a short course of beta-blockers may be sensible to control the transient symptoms. If postpartum hypothyroidism is diagnosed the patient should be placed on thyroxine for 12 months andthen stopped and the thyroid status re-evaluated. The disease may well recur following subsequent pregnancies. A low uptake on the thyroid scan confirms the diagnosis.