Pregnancy induces a series of physiological modifications that include a significant elevation of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) levels. This elevation interferes in the serum levels of total thyroxine and stresses the use of free thyroxine (FT4), together with TSH measurement, as the first line tests in the evaluation of thyroid function in pregnancy. A careful definition of the normal values for FT4 during pregnancy is paramount for the study of thyroid abnormalities, since minimal dysfunctions can result in significant fetal abnormalities. We studied 132 normal pregnant women, from 6 to 38 weeks of gestation, and the serum FT4 measured by an indirect two-step assay (normal values for non-pregnant women: 0.7 to 1.5ng/dL; mean±SD 0.98±0.14ng/dL, n= 797) showed values between 0.5 and 1.3ng/dL; mean±SD of 0.78±0.16ng/dL, values significantly lower than the observed in non-pregnant women (P<0.0001). Values tended to decline progressively throughout pregnancy, with a significant negative correlation with TBG levels (rs= -0.51, P<0.0001), as well as with weeks of gestation (rs= -0.649, P<0.0001). TSH levels did not show any correlation with gestational age. Our data corroborate the need of a precise definition of FT4 normal values during pregnancy, aiming a better laboratory evaluation of thyroid dysfunctions in this group of patients.
Free thyroxine and pregnancy; TBG and pregnancy; Thyroid function and pregnancy; Free thyroxine measurement methods