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Clinical associations of maternal thyroid function with foetal brain development: Epidemiological interpretation and overview of available evidence

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Thyroid hormone is an important regulator of early brain development, particularly during early stages of gestation during which foetal thyroid hormone availability depends on the maternal transfer of thyroid hormones. There is a wide range of experimental studies showing that low maternal thyroid hormone availability is associated with suboptimal brain development parameters. While few clinical studies have shown that overt maternal hypothyroidism is associated with lower child IQ, the question whether more subclinical changes in maternal thyroid function could also lead to suboptimal foetal brain development. In this review, we put the latter studies in perspective and discuss their interpretation from an epidemiological and clinical perspective. Furthermore, we extend this discussion to also include future perspective and identify important knowledge gaps in the field.
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Keywords: autism; brain; intelligence quotient; pregnancy; thyroid

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2018

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