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In the United States, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a condition that causes the body's natural defenses—the immune system—to produce antibodies that over time destroy thyroid tissue. As a result, the thyroid gland cannot make enough thyroid hormone.
Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the number one cause of hypothyroidism. Iodine added to salt, food, and water has eliminated this problem in the United States and other Western countries.
Other common causes of hypothyroidism include:
Less common causes include:
Mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism is most often caused by inadequate treatment of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, or radioactive iodine therapy. But it may be caused by anything that causes hypothyroidism.
Autoimmune thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland, sometimes occurs during pregnancy and can cause hypothyroidism. About 2% of pregnant women in the United States get hypothyroidism.2
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