Perinatal exposure to excess iodine can lead to transient hypothyroidism in the newborn. In Japan, large quantities of iodine-rich seaweed such as kombu (Laminaria japonica) are consumed. However, effects of iodine from food consumed during the perinatal period are unknown. The concentration of iodine in serum, urine, and breast milk in addition to thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine (FT(4)), and thyroglobulin was measured in 34 infants who were positive at congenital hypothyroidism screening. Based on the concentration of iodine in the urine, 15 infants were diagnosed with hyperthyrotropinemia caused by the excess ingestion of iodine by their mothers during their pregnancy. According to serum iodine concentrations, these infants were classified into group A (over 17 microg/dL) and group B (under 17 microg/dL) of serum iodine. During their pregnancies these mothers consumed kombu, other seaweeds, and instant kombu soups containing a high level of iodine. It was calculated that the mothers of group A infants ingested approximately 2300-3200 microg of iodine, and the mothers of group B infants approximately 820-1400 microg of iodine per day during their pregnancies. Twelve of 15 infants have required levo-thyroxine (LT(4)) because hypothyroxinemia or persistent hyperthyrotropinemia was present. In addition, consumption of iodine by the postnatal child and susceptibility to the inhibitory effect of iodine may contribute in part to the persistent hyperthyrotropinemia. We propose that hyperthyrotropinemia related to excessive iodine ingestion by the mother during pregnancy in some cases may not be transient.