Neonatal hypothyroxinemia: effects of iodine intake and premature birth

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997 Jun;82(6):1704-12. doi: 10.1210/jcem.82.6.4019.


We have investigated the effects of iodine (I) intake on urinary I excretion in preterm (PT) babies up to 2 months after birth and its effect on serum T4, free T4 (FT4), T3, TSH, and thyroglobulin (Tg) levels compared to those in term (T) newborns. Very premature and very sick infants were in negative I balance for the first weeks after birth. Later, these same infants, as well as the other PT and T newborns, were in positive balance; 75- 80% of the ingested I was not accounted for in the urine. The urinary I levels of PT and T neonates cannot be equated to their I intakes. T4, FT4, and T3 levels in PT and T neonates increased with postmenstrual age, whereas Tg decreased and TSH did not change. Serum FT4, T3, Tg, and TSH levels in PT neonates were affected negatively, independently from age, by a low I intake. PT birth also affected T4, FT4, and Tg negatively, independently from I intake and postmenstrual age, for at least 6-8 weeks after birth. Care should be taken to avoid I deficiency in PT neonates. However, even when I intake is adequate, PT newborns are hypothyroxinemic compared to T babies during an important period of brain development. This suggests the possible convenience of interventions that might mimic the intrauterine hormone environment and accelerate maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Creatinine / urine
  • Diet*
  • Fetal Blood
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / blood*
  • Infant, Premature / blood*
  • Iodine / administration & dosage*
  • Iodine / metabolism
  • Iodine / pharmacology
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology
  • Thyroxine / blood*
  • Urine / chemistry


  • Iodine
  • Creatinine
  • Thyroxine