International Survey Reveals A Lack Of Knowledge About The Impact of Thyroid Disorders On Fertility
- Results of the survey, initiated by Merck and conducted by YouGov, indicate a need to better educate people on the implications of undiagnosed thyroid disorders on fertility and the health of mother and baby
- The survey included over 7,000 people across 6 countries (Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia)
- Survey results coincide with International Thyroid Awareness Week, the annual campaign developed by Merck in close collaboration with Thyroid Federation International and ThyroidChange
Darmstadt, Germany, May 26, 2020 – Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced international survey results* which reveal a lack of understanding about the implications that undiagnosed thyroid disorders can have on fertility, fetal development and the health of mother and baby. The results come at the start of the 12th International Thyroid Awareness Week (ITAW), from May 25 – 31, which focuses on ‘Mother and Baby’ this year.
Worldwide, 1.6 billion people are thought to be at risk of thyroid disorders1, with one in eight women developing thyroid problems in her lifetime.2 Yet, the results of this survey show that only one quarter (24%) of respondents are aware that undiagnosed thyroid disorders can cause fertility problems,** and 48% are not aware that hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can cause complications for mother and baby during pregnancy.***
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Ashok Bhaseen, President of Thyroid Federation International and Denise Roguz, Co-founder of ThyroidChange, both agree that the survey calls for better education regarding the impact of unmanaged thyroid disorders on fertility and the health of both mother and baby.
Ashok Bhaseen commented: “Thyroid disorders don’t just affect pregnancy. A new mother with no previous history of thyroid disorders can develop complications and new-born babies can be born without a functioning thyroid gland.”
Denise Roguz added: “We want more women to get their thyroid hormone levels screened with a full thyroid panel and more doctors to be aware of optimal thyroid hormone level guidelines during pregnancy. This will help to ensure healthy levels before, during, and after pregnancy so that people are not suffering during this defining life milestone.”
Further survey insights show that less than half (48%) of respondents are aware that it is crucial to check for optimal thyroid hormone levels for pregnant women throughout pregnancy**** and only a quarter (26%) of respondents are aware that new mothers who have no previous history of thyroid disease can develop problems with their thyroid within the first year after giving birth; a condition that is called postpartum thyroiditis.***** , less than half (45%) of respondents are aware that newborn babies (i.e. one month or younger) need to be tested for congenital hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid present at or before birth), in case they are born with an underdeveloped thyroid gland and may require treatment.******
“Merck is proud to be partnering with Thyroid Federation International and ThyroidChange to raise awareness of the impact of unmanaged thyroid disorders on the health of mothers and babies. We believe that with access to the right information, people can recognize symptoms and know when to visit their doctor for a simple blood test to check the functioning of their thyroid gland.” said Andre Musto, Head of Global Business Franchise General Medicine and Endocrinology (GM&E).
The survey was undertaken for Merck by YouGov between 24 March and 6 April 2020. A total of 7,208 adults in six countries (Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia) participated in the survey.
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 7,208 adults in Chile, China, Columbia, Indonesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Fieldwork was undertaken from 24 March to 6 April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (Aged 18+) in each country.
** When presented with a list of possible complications to check for during pregnancy [Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cancer, vision problems, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (i.e. prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract), thyroid disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (i.e. a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels), diabetes, a woman’s age, kidney disease]
*** 52% of adults across all markets surveyed knew hypothyroidism can cause complications for mother and baby, while 16% did not and 32% did not know.
**** When presented with a list of possible complications to check for during pregnancy [Eating a balanced diet, washing your hands regularly, drinking caffeine (e.g. tea, coffee etc.), continuing light exercise (e.g. leisurely walk, aqua fitness etc.), not consuming alcohol and drugs, checking for optimal levels of thyroid hormones, being careful not to inhale fumes from paint and other chemicals, staying away from cat faeces and / or litter trays]
***** 26% of adults across all markets surveyed knew women with no previous history of thyroid disorders can develop thyroid complications within the first year after giving birth, while 21% did not and 53% did not know.
****** When presented with a list of possible disorders that babies should be tested for at birth [Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), congenital hypothyroidism (i.e. underactive thyroid present at or before birth), congenital (present at or before) diabetes, congenital (present at or before birth) kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease (i.e. prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract), congenital (present at or before birth) heart disease, hearing, balance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (i.e. a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels)]
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Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 57,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2019, Merck generated sales of € 16.2 billion in 66 countries.
Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.
About Thyroid Federation International (TFI)
TFI first convened in Toronto at the 11th International Thyroid Congress in September 1995. Diana Meltzer Abramsky, who in 1980 founded the Thyroid Foundation of Canada in Kingston, Ontario Canada, first advocated the vision of a world thyroid patient organization to deal with the problems of thyroid disease in a global perspective. Since then the Federation has grown to include thyroid organizations in many parts of the world, including Europe, North and South America, Australia, Japan, Asia and Africa. TFI is an independent, worldwide network of patient-support organizations. The Federation works together for the benefit of those affected by thyroid disorders by providing information and raising awareness, by encouraging and assisting the formation of patient-oriented groups, and by working closely with the medical professions. TFI has a Medical Advisory Board, which consists of some of the most eminent thyroid specialists in the world. For more information, please visit http://www.thyroid-fed.org/tfi-wp/
ThyroidChange is a collaborative network, health information website, and social media campaign. It unites an international community of medical professionals and patients under the same innovative vision: patients need personalized thyroid care for optimal wellness. ThyroidChange began in 2013 as a simple website to help patients, and grew into a vast international network of medical professionals, patients, and organizations. Today, ThyroidChange empowers physicians and patients worldwide to seek innovative approaches to thyroid care for optimal wellness through a research-based approach. Together, we demonstrate the success of personalized and comprehensive thyroid care. With over 110K followers on Facebook and tens of thousands more on other social media platforms, ThyroidChange is uniting our community worldwide for better thyroid care. For more information, please visit www.ThyroidChange.org
YouGov is an international online market research and data analytics firm, headquartered in the UK, with operations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.
About Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid dysfunction is very common throughout the world, especially in women3. Risk factors include, recent pregnancy (hypothyroidism) and experiencing hormonal changes due to a pregnancy, childbirth or during menopause (hypothyroidism).4 The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck, in front of the windpipe. It is the “master controller“ of metabolism, and plays a key role in our health and wellbeing.5
About International Thyroid Awareness Week
ITAW, now in its 12th year, was created to highlight the detrimental impact that thyroid disorders have on people’s quality of life when left undiagnosed. Around 1.6 billion people worldwide are thought to be at risk, with hundreds of millions living with a thyroid condition right now.1 Up to 60% of those living with a thyroid disorder are undiagnosed, and people may be needlessly struggling through their everyday lives without knowing the root cause of their symptoms.3
However, once diagnosed, thyroid disorders are treatable5, and the ITAW campaign is pushing hard to improve testing and diagnoses globally.
- Khan A, Khan MM, Akhtar S. Thyroid disorders, etiology and prevalence. J Med Sci 2002; 2: 89–94. Available at: http://www.scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=jms.2002.89.94&org=11. Last Accessed April 2020.
- Thyroid awareness: what happens when this little gland goes haywire. Available at: https://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/thyroid-awareness-what-happens-when-little-gland-goes-haywire. Last Accessed April 2020.
- American Thyroid Association. General Information/Press Room. Available at: https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/. Last accessed April 2020.
- Everyday Health. Are you at risk for thyroid disease? Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/thyroid-conditions/evaluating-your-thyroid-disease-risk.aspx. Last accessed April 2020.
- American Thyroid Association. Hyperthyroidism. Available at: http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/ata-hyperthyroidism-brochure.pdf. Last accessed April 2020.
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