Maternal thyroid disease in pregnancy and timing of pubertal development in sons and daughters

Maternal hyperthyroidism may accelerate pubertal timing in sons. Maternal thyroid diseases did not seem to affect pubertal development in daughters.

VOLUME 118, ISSUE 1, P136-146


Lea L.H. Lunddorf, M.D., Andreas Ernst, Ph.D., Nis Brix, Ph.D., Linn H. Arendt, Ph.D., Stine L. Andersen, Ph.D., Jørn Olsen, Ph.D., Cecilia H. Ramlau-Hansen, Ph.D.



To study whether maternal thyroid disease in pregnancy is associated with pubertal timing in sons and daughters.


Cohort study.


National birth cohort and health registers.


A total of 15,763 mothers and children from the Danish National Birth Cohort and its Puberty Cohort.


Register-based and self-reported information on maternal thyroid diseases during pregnancy (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, benign goiter, or no thyroid disease [reference group]).

Main Outcome Measure(s)

The adjusted mean age difference (months) at attaining several self-reported pubertal milestones collected every 6 months using an interval-censored regression and the average difference in age at attaining all pubertal milestones using the Huber-White robust variance estimation (primary outcome).


Sons of mothers with hyperthyroidism had earlier pubertal development (average difference, −2.9 [95% confidence interval (CI), −5.0 to −0.7] months) than unexposed sons. Maternal hypothyroidism was not associated with pubertal development in sons (average difference, −1.2 [95% CI, −5.1 to 2.7] months). We observed nonstatistically significant indications of earlier pubertal development in sons of mothers with benign goiter (average difference, −1.9 [95% CI, −4.6 to 0.9] months). Maternal thyroid disease was not associated with pubertal development in daughters (average difference (months), hyperthyroidism, −0.8 [95% CI, −2.8 to 1.2]; hypothyroidism, 0.3 [95% CI, −3.1 to 3.8]; and benign goiter, 0.7 [95% CI, −2.0 to 3.4]).


We found indications of earlier pubertal development in sons of mothers with hyperthyroidism. More research is needed to further investigate the observed sex-specific association.