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. 2013 Nov 22;170(1):49-54.
doi: 10.1530/EJE-13-0589. Print 2014 Jan.

Longitudinal Trends in Thyroid Function in Relation to Iodine Intake: Ongoing Changes of Thyroid Function Despite Adequate Current Iodine Status

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Longitudinal Trends in Thyroid Function in Relation to Iodine Intake: Ongoing Changes of Thyroid Function Despite Adequate Current Iodine Status

Annenienke C van de Ven et al. Eur J Endocrinol. .

Abstract

Objective: Several cross-sectional studies on populations with iodine deficiency showed that TSH-levels are negatively associated with age, while in populations with high iodine intake TSH is positively associated with age. The question is whether such an age-thyroid function relation is an ongoing process apparent also in longitudinal studies and whether it reflects an actual iodine deficiency or an iodine insufficiency in the past.

Methods: In an area with a borderline iodine status in the past, we studied 980 participants of the Nijmegen Biomedical Study. We measured serum TSH, free thyroxine (FT₄), total triiodothyronine (T₃), peroxidase antibodies, and the urine iodine and creatinine concentration 4 years after our initial survey of thyroid function, in which we reported a negative association between TSH and age.

Results: within 4 years, TSH decreased by 5.4% (95% ci 2.58.3%) and FT₄ increased by 3.7% (95% ci 2.94.6%). median urinary iodine concentration was 130 μg/l. estimated 24-h iodine excretion was not associated with TSH, T₃, change of TSH, or FT₄ over time or with the presence of antibodies against thyroid peroxidase. Only FT₄ appeared to be somewhat higher at lower urine iodine levels: a 1.01% (95% CI 0.17-1.84%) higher FT₄ for each lower iodine quintile.

Conclusions: In this longitudinal study, we found an ongoing decrease in TSH and increase in FT₄ in a previously iodine insufficient population, despite the adequate iodine status at present. This suggests that low iodine intake at young age leads to thyroid autonomy (and a tendency to hyperthyroidism) that persists despite normal iodine intake later in life.

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