Neonatal thyroid screening as a monitoring tool for the control of iodine deficiency

Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1999 Dec;88(432):21-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1999.tb01150.x.


In conditions of iodine deficiency, the frequency distribution of neonatal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is shifted towards elevated values. Elevated serum TSH in the neonate indicates insufficient supply of thyroid hormones to the developing brain, and therefore constitutes the only indicator that allows prediction of brain damage, which is the main complication of iodine deficiency. This paper reviews studies on neonatal thyroid function in iodine deficiency and confirms the former statement by WHO/UNICEF/ICCIDD that the frequency of neonatal TSH above 5 mU/L blood is below 3% in conditions of normal iodine supply, that a frequency of 3-19.9% indicates mild iodine deficiency and that frequencies of 20-39.9% and above 40% indicate moderate to severe iodine deficiency, respectively. Neonatal thyroid screening appears as a particularly sensitive index in the monitoring of iodine supply at a population level.

MeSH terms

  • Congenital Hypothyroidism*
  • Deficiency Diseases / congenital
  • Deficiency Diseases / diagnosis
  • Deficiency Diseases / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis*
  • Hypothyroidism / prevention & control
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Iodine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyrotropin / analysis*


  • Thyrotropin
  • Iodine