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A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop hypothyroidism with or without the risk factors listed below. Your chances of developing hypothyroidism increase depending on the number of risk factors you have. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

There are several medical conditions known to increase your risk of hypothyroidism. These include:

  • Pregnancy—Less than 10% of women develop postpartum thyroiditis. This condition is best described as hyperthyroidism that is followed by hypothyroidism. These women usually get better without treatment. Treatment is sometimes needed if this happens again. This condition can also happen with other causes of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
  • A history of other autoimmune diseases, such as:
  • Having received radiation to the thyroid tissue or the neck or chest
  • Having had thyroid surgery in the past
  • Injury
  • Pituitary gland disorders

Your risk of hypothyroidism increases with age, especially after age 65 years.

Women are more likely to develop the condition than men.

If any of your family members have hypothyroidism, you are at greater risk.

Hypothyroidism occurs more often in Caucasians than in African Americans.

Revision Information

  • Hypothyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 12, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.

  • Hypothyroidism. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service website. Available at: http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/Hypothyroidism. Updated March 13, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.