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Antithyroid drug therapy in pregnancy and risk of congenital anomalies: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Agrawal, Medha, Lewis, Steffan, Premawardhana, Lakdasa, Dayan, Colin M. ORCID:, Taylor, Peter N. ORCID: and Okosieme, Onyebuchi E. 2022. Antithyroid drug therapy in pregnancy and risk of congenital anomalies: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Endocrinology 96 (6) , pp. 857-868. 10.1111/cen.14646

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Objectives The risk of congenital anomalies following in utero exposure to thionamide antithyroid drugs (ATDs) is unresolved. Observational studies are contradictory and existing meta-analyses predate and preclude more recent studies. We undertook an updated meta-analysis of congenital anomaly risk in women exposed to carbimazole or methimazole (CMZ/MMI), propylthiouracil (PTU), or untreated hyperthyroidism in pregnancy. Methods We searched Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane database for articles published up till August 2021. We pooled separate crude and adjusted risk estimates using random effects models and subgroup analyses to address heterogeneity. Results We identified 16 cohort studies comprising 5957, 15,785, and 15,666 exposures to CMZ/MMI, PTU, and untreated hyperthyroidism, respectively. Compared to nondisease controls, adjusted risk ratio (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for congenital anomalies was increased for CMZ/MMI (RR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.06–1.54) and PTU (RR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.08–1.25). Crude risk for CMZ/MMI was increased relative to PTU (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.01–1.43). Increased risk was also seen with exposure to both CMZ/MMI and PTU, that is, women who switched ATDs in pregnancy (RR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.14–1.99). However, the timing of ATD switch was highly variable and included prepregnancy switches in some studies. The excess number of anomalies per 1000 live births was 17.2 for patients exposed to CMZ/MMI, 9.8, for PTU exposure, and 31.4 for exposure to both CMZ/MMI and PTU. Risk in the untreated group did not differ from control or ATD groups. The untreated group was however highly heterogeneous in terms of thyroid status. Subgroup analysis showed more positive associations in studies with >500 exposures and up to 1-year follow-up. Conclusions ATD therapy carries a small risk of congenital anomalies which is higher for CMZ/MMI than for PTU and does not appear to be reduced by switching ATDs in pregnancy. Due to key limitations in the available data, further studies will be required to clarify the risks associated with untreated hyperthyroidism and with switching ATDs in pregnancy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Society for Endocrinology
ISSN: 0300-0664
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 21 October 2021
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 01:22

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