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Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Jul;121(7):865-71. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205783. Epub 2013 May 7.

Measures of thyroid function among Belarusian children and adolescents exposed to iodine-131 from the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

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1
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9778, USA. ostroume@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Thyroid dysfunction after exposure to low or moderate doses of radioactive iodine-131 (131I) at a young age is a public health concern. However, quantitative data are sparse concerning 131I-related risk of these common diseases.

OBJECTIVE:

Our goal was to assess the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in association with 131I exposure during childhood (≤ 18 years) due to fallout from the Chernobyl accident.

METHODS:

We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and autoantibodies to thyroperoxidase (ATPO) in relation to measurement-based 131I dose estimates in a Belarusian cohort of 10,827 individuals screened for various thyroid diseases.

RESULTS:

Mean age at exposure (± SD) was 8.2 ± 5.0 years. Mean (median) estimated 131I thyroid dose was 0.54 (0.23) Gy (range, 0.001-26.6 Gy). We found significant positive associations of 131I dose with hypothyroidism (mainly subclinical and antibody-negative) and serum TSH concentration. The excess odds ratio per 1 Gy for hypothyroidism was 0.34 (95% CI: 0.15, 0.62) and varied significantly by age at exposure and at examination, presence of goiter, and urban/rural residency. We found no evidence of positive associations with antibody-positive hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, AIT, or elevated ATPO.

CONCLUSIONS:

The association between 131I dose and hypothyroidism in the Belarusian cohort is consistent with that previously reported for a Ukrainian cohort and strengthens evidence of the effect of environmental 131I exposure during childhood on hypothyroidism, but not other thyroid outcomes.

Comment in

PMID:
23651658
PMCID:
PMC3701991
DOI:
10.1289/ehp.1205783
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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