What Causes Hypothyroidism?

There are several different causes of hypothyroidism:

  • An inflammation of the thyroid gland called thyroiditis can lower the amount of hormones produced. The number one cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a painless disease of the immune system that runs in families. Another form of thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, occurs in 5%-9% of women soon after giving birth and is usually a temporary condition.
  • Thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine treatment may cause hypothyroidism.
  • One out of every 4,000 infants is born without a working thyroid gland. If the problem is not corrected, the child will become mentally and physically retarded.
  • About 100 million people around the world don’t get enough iodine in their diets. Iodine is a chemical which the thyroid uses to produce its hormones. The problem has been solved in the United States and most developed countries by adding iodine to salt.
  • Some other possible causes of hypothyroidism are radiation therapy to the head and neck, birth defects, certain drugs, problems with the pituitary gland, and a gradual wearing out of the thyroid gland.