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Endocr Connect. 2018 Apr;7(4):511-522. doi: 10.1530/EC-18-0023. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

Sex differences in risk factors for subclinical hypothyroidism.

Author information

1
Division of Endocrinology and MetabolismDepartment of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
2
Division of Endocrinology and MetabolismDepartment of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea benedict@catholic.ac.kr.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) in Korean adults and identify the risk factors for the occurrence of SCH by sex.

DESIGN AND METHODS:

This study used data from the Sixth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES VI), a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey, which comprises a health interview survey, a health examination survey and a nutrition survey. To examine SCH, the reference range of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) was defined using both the range provided by the test kit manufacturer (SCH-M) and a population-based range (SCH-P). We investigated the prevalence of SCH and its risk factors by sex using both reference ranges.

RESULTS:

The prevalence of SCH in Koreans according to SCH-M (0.35-5.5 µIU/mL) was 5.6%, and 3.3% with SCH-P (0.62-6.68 µIU/mL). For men, smoking significantly reduced the incidence of SCH, positive anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) significantly increased the risk of SCH, and in an adjusted model, the risk of SCH in all quartiles increased as the urine iodine creatinine ratio (UICR) quartile increased. For women, positive TPOAb was confirmed as a risk factor for SCH, as was the highest UICR quartile. Furthermore, the odds ratio for SCH in urban vs rural residence was 1.78.

CONCLUSIONS:

The prevalence rates of SCH were similar to those reported in the literature and previously known risk factors were confirmed using both TSH reference ranges. The notable findings from this study are that the increased risk of SCH with increased iodine intake was more marked in men than in women and that residential area may be a risk factor for SCH in women.

KEYWORDS:

prevalence; sex differences; subclinical hypothyroidism; urine iodine

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