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Eur J Pediatr. 1997 Dec;156(12):916-20.

Effects of low level radiation from the Chernobyl accident in a population with iodine deficiency.

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Russian Academy of Advanced Medical Studies, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Endocrinology, Russian Federation.


To determine the effects of low dose radiation from 131I and 137Cs resulting from the Chernobyl disaster on the expression of endemic goiter in children, we studied children in regions with and without evidence of radiocontamination but comparable iodine insufficiency. We included 89 children in the study (radiocontaminated) region (SR) and 116 in the control region (CR) because they were either fetuses, infants, or pre-adolescents at the time of exposure. We evaluated thyroid dimensions by clinical examination and ultrasound; thyroid function by hormonal levels, and thyroglobulin measurement; histology of the thyroid by fine needle aspiration; and thyroid autoimmunity. SR subjects had 5 times the frequency of thyroid enlargement as those from CR, greatest in the younger patients. There were no instances of clinically apparent thyroid dysfunction. Antithyroid microsomal and antithyroglobulin antibodies were present in a markedly greater percentage of SR subjects. Fine needle biopsy demonstrated greater cellular proliferation in samples from SR.


We have demonstrated findings of autoimmune thyroid disease at markedly increased frequency in a population of children with poor iodine nutriture who were exposed to low level radiation, compared to a more iodine deficient population not so exposed. These results suggest that low level radiation may induce thyroid gland changes in children who have inadequate iodine intake nutriture and reinforce the importance of adequate dietary iodine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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