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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Mar;94(3):899-906. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-2049. Epub 2008 Dec 23.

A screening study of thyroid cancer and other thyroid diseases among individuals exposed in utero to iodine-131 from Chernobyl fallout.

Author information

  • 1Chernobyl Research Unit, Radiation Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 6120 Executive Boulevard, EPS 7098, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA. hatchm@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Like stable iodine, radioiodines concentrate in the thyroid gland, increasing thyroid cancer risk in exposed children. Data on exposure to the embryonic/fetal thyroid are rare, raising questions about use of iodine 131 (I-131) in pregnant women. We present here estimated risks of thyroid disease from exposure in utero to I-131 fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

METHODS:

We conducted a cross-sectional thyroid screening study (palpation, ultrasound, thyroid hormones, and, if indicated, fine needle aspiration) from 2003 to 2006. Participants were 2582 mother-child pairs from Ukraine in which the mother had been pregnant at the time of the accident on April 26, 1986, or 2 months after the time during which I-131 fallout was still present (1494 from contaminated areas, 1088 in the comparison group). Individual cumulative in utero thyroid dose estimates were derived from estimated I-131 activity in the mother's thyroid (mean 72 mGy; range 0-3230 mGy).

RESULTS:

There were seven cases of thyroid carcinoma and one case of Hurthle cell neoplasm identified as a result of the screening. Whereas the estimated excess odds ratio per gray for thyroid carcinoma was elevated (excess odds ratio per gray 11.66), it was not statistically significant (P = 0.12). No radiation risks were identified for other thyroid diseases.

CONCLUSION:

Our results suggest that in utero exposure to radioiodines may have increased the risk of thyroid carcinoma approximately 20 yr after the Chernobyl accident, supporting a conservative approach to medical uses of I-131 during pregnancy.

PMID:
19106267
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2681280
Free PMC Article
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