This phenomenon is “Molecular Mimicry”6. If you have hidden infections, these could be the cause of your autoimmune attack!
Digging deeper, there is sufficient data suggesting that autoimmune thyroid disease clusters amongst family members.
For example, having a first degree relative with the disease increases the chances of having the disease7.
Having a stressful event leads to an increase in the production of cortisol and increased activity of the immune system8.
For example, the second case of hyperthyroidism described in medicine was back in 1825. The case is a 21-year-old woman whose symptoms began four months after she had been thrown accidentally down the stairs in a wheelchair.
Sometimes, the stressful event may have even happened long ago! It is not a coincidence that autoimmune thyroid disease is often diagnosed after the birth of a child, a sometimes very stressful event (Read: Stress management).
Coupled with the potential of stress after delivery, there are some immune changes in the body after delivery of a baby.
The immune system goes into suppression right before delivery, and then when it comes back it is usually a little overactive9. This can activate the faulty mechanisms that create autoimmune thyroid disease.
Low iodine status is protective against thyroid autoimmunity.
For example, in the areas of China that have low iodine intake, the prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis is 0.3%. We have talked about this effect in previous posts (Read: How much iodine do you need for thyroid disease).
Endocrine Disruptor Exposure
Environmental exposure can cause the precipitation of autoimmune thyroid disease.
For example, after the Chernobyl accident, the incidence of autoimmune thyroid problems amongst children increased dramatically.
The antibody prevalence was elevated in a dose-response manner, the more radiation exposure, the higher the incidence of thyroid disease10.