The prevalence of undiagnosed thyroid disorders in a previously iodine-deficient area

Thyroid. 2003 Aug;13(8):803-10. doi: 10.1089/105072503768499680.


Objective: The aim of the present study was to analyze the current status of morphologic and functional thyroid abnormalities in a previously iodine-deficient area.

Methods: The population based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) comprised 4310 participants, aged 20-79 years. Thyroid function (thyrotropin [TSH] free triiodothyronine [FT(3)], and free thyroxine [FT(4)]) and serum autoantibodies to thyroperoxidase (TPOAb) were evaluated from blood samples. Thyroid structure and size were measured by ultrasound. Data from 3941 participants with no known thyroid disorders were analyzed.

Results: The median iodine urine excretion was 12.4 microg/dL. The rate of decreased serum TSH levels (<0.3 mIU/L) was 11.3%; 2.2% of participants had suppressed serum TSH levels (<0.1 mIU/L). The prevalence of subclinical hyperthyroidism was 1.8%, the prevalence of overt hyperthyroidism 0.4%. Elevated TSH levels were found in 1.2% of individuals. Subclinical hypothyroidism was observed in 0.5%, overt hypothyroidism in 0.7% of the sample. Elevated TPOAb were detected in 7% of subjects, 4.1% of participants had TPOAb greater than 200 IU/mL. The prevalence of goiter was 35.9%. An inhomogeneous echo pattern was detected in 35.2% and nodules in 20.2% of participants. Diffuse autoimmune thyroiditis was diagnosed in 47 subjects (1.2%).

Conclusion: There are a number of thyroid disorders in this previously iodine-deficient region. Further studies are required to investigate the change of thyroid disorders during iodine supplementation programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Geography
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Iodine / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Thyroid Diseases / epidemiology*


  • Iodine