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Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2014 Jan;99(1):F21-8. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-303799. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

A systematic review of thyroid dysfunction in preterm neonates exposed to topical iodine.

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Population Health Sciences, Medical Research Institute, Mackenzie Building, University of Dundee, , Dundee, Scotland.



To determine whether maternal exposure to iodine or neonatal exposure to topical iodine-containing solutions increases the risk of transient thyroid dysfunction in neonates born <32 weeks' gestation or <1.5 kg.


Systematic review.


Electronic searches were conducted using Medline and the Cochrane Library.


A study was eligible for review if it reported neonatal exposure to topical iodine or maternal iodine exposure. The key outcome measure was neonatal thyroid function. The search had no restrictions on date of publication, type of study or language.


794 papers were identified during the initial search; 15 studies were fully reviewed. The incidence of (transient) hypothyroidism/hyperthyrotropinaemia following exposure to topical iodine ranged from 12 to 33 per 100 infants; the incidence in non-exposed infants was 0.


There is evidence that neonatal exposure to iodine-containing disinfectants causes thyroid dysfunction in infants born <32 weeks. None of the studies evaluated neurodevelopment. Larger scale studies are needed to determine definitively the nature of the relationship and the impact of exposure on neurodevelopment. In the meantime, it would seem prudent to restrict exposure of iodine-containing skin disinfectants in preterm infants; chlorhexidine might be a credible alternative.


Neonatology; iodine; systematic review; thyroid hormones; toxicity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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