Effects of pre- and postnatal exposure to chlorinated dioxins and furans on human neonatal thyroid hormone concentrations

Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Nov;101(6):504-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.93101504.


Animal studies have shown that dioxins influence plasma thyroid hormone concentrations. To investigate the effect of chlorinated dioxins and furans on thyroid hormone concentrations in humans, we studied 38 healthy breast-fed infants. The study population was divided into two groups according to the dioxin concentrations in milk fat of their mothers. Blood samples were taken at birth and at the ages of 1 and 11 weeks. At birth a tendency to higher total thyroxine (tT4) concentrations was found in the high exposure group. At the ages of 1 and 11 weeks the increase of mean tT4 concentrations and tT4/thyroxine-binding globulin ratios in the high exposure group reached significance as compared to the low exposure group. At birth and 1 week after birth, mean thyrotropin (TSH) concentrations were similar in both groups, but at the age of 11 weeks the mean TSH concentrations were significantly higher in the high exposure group. We postulate that the observed plasma tT4 elevation in infants exposed to dioxins before and after birth is the result of an effect on the thyroid hormone regulatory system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dioxins / adverse effects*
  • Dioxins / analysis
  • Female
  • Furans / adverse effects*
  • Furans / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / blood*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood*


  • Dioxins
  • Furans
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls