Thyroid UK

Thyroid Autoimmune problems and iron deficiency are linked

A new paper in European J of Endocrinology, vol 175, September, pp191-199. Here is the abstract. It studies pregnant women but the results should be generally applicable. The upshot is that the development of Thyroid autoimmune response is linked to iron deficiency and may very well be caused by this. It could be that women who have had children and also had ID then are part of this forum - a reason why so often after having a child, a woman can develop autoimmune symptoms.


Objective Thyroid disorders and iron deficiency (ID) are associated with obstetrical and fetal complications. Iron is essential for the normal functioning of thyroid peroxidase (TPO-abs) and ID is frequent during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) and dysfunction during the first trimester of pregnancy in women with and without ID.

Design Cross-sectional data analysis of 1900 pregnant women nested within an ongoing prospective collection of pregnant women’s data.

Method The study was performed in a single, tertiary referral center. During the first antenatal visit, ferritin, TPO-abs, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and free T4 (FT4) were measured and age and BMI were recorded. ID was defined as ferritin <15µg/L, TAI when TPO-abs was >60kIU/L, and subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) when TSH was >2.5mIU/L.

Results ID was present in 35% of women. Age and BMI were comparable between both groups. In the ID group, the prevalence of TAI and SCH was significantly higher, compared with that in the non-ID group (10% vs 6% and 20% vs 16%; P=0.011 and 0.049 respectively). Ferritin was inversely correlated with serum TSH (ρ=−0.076; P=0.001) and positive with FT4 levels (ρ=0.112; P<0.001). In the logistic regression model, ID remained associated with TAI after correction for confounding factors (P=0.017). The association with SCH was absent after correction for the confounders in the logistic regression model (P=0.082), but remained present in the linear regression model (P=0.035).

Conclusions ID was frequent during the first trimester of pregnancy and was associated with a higher prevalence of TAI, higher serum TSH, and lower FT4 levels.

1 Reply

Thanks Kai. The full paper is currently available as an authors' proof - sometimes this access stops when the paper is formally published. If you are interested, I suggest you download that PDF now.


Iron is mentioned in so very many posts on this forum. Even speculation that the link between iron deficiency and autoimmune thyroid disorder is of interest. Let us hope that these observations lead to research which proves whatever causal relationships actually exist - and soon, please!

Now let us also wonder about the link with B12...


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