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Thyroid Medication Linked to Birth Defects


We depend on our doctors to keep us and our children safe.  Sometimes, however, doctors are at the mercy of poor research and investigation when it comes to drugs like Methimazole.

What is Methimazole?

Methimazole is used to treat thyroid problems like Graves’ disease.  Graves’ disease is an immune problem which features the overproduction of thyroid hormones.  Those hormones, produced in excess, can have a variety of symptoms and problems, including tremors, anxiety, frequent bowel movements, skin problems, heart palpitations, and severe problems with the eyes.  Methimazole is intended to reduce the production of hormones from the thyroid.

What Problems are Associated with Methimazole?

Japanese researchers have linked it to potential birth defects, and studies have shown that women who take it have a 75% higher risk of giving birth to a child with birth defects.  Those children may have:

  • Aplasia cutis: the child may be born missing a portion of skin in a localized or widespread area
  • Choanal atresia: the narrowing of the nasal airway by tissue, which causes difficulty breathing.
  • Esophagul atresia: improper development of the esophagus
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Omphalocele: intestines or other abdominal organs are outside of the belly button

Other drugs used to treat thyroid problems may have a lower chance of risks.  For example, Propylthiouracil (PTU) has a 50% chance of birth defects, by comparison.  PTU, however, does have risks to the mother’s liver.  Doctors must be careful when giving recommendations about which drug to use, and for how long during the pregnancy.

It may be that there are no easy solutions.  Drugs may be necessary, because an uncontrolled thyroid can lead to several problems for the baby, including low birth weight, congestive heart failure, preeclampsia, miscarriage, and pre-term birth.  The risks of injury to the mother and the baby in every situation must be analyzed, and a course of treatment prescribed.

Contact Us

If your baby had birth injuries and you were diagnosed with thyroid problems, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation.  We can help to determine whether your doctors prescribed the appropriate medication for your situation.

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