Thyroid 2012 Sep 24;22(9):938-43. Epub 2012 Jul 24.
Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Boston University School of Medicine, 88 East Newton St., Boston, MA 02118, USA.
Background: Breastfed infants rely on maternal iodine for thyroid hormone production required for neurodevelopment. Dietary iodine among women of childbearing age in the United States may be insufficient. Perchlorate (competitive inhibitor of the sodium/iodide symporter [NIS]) exposure is ubiquitous. Thiocyanate, from cigarettes and diet, is a weaker NIS inhibitor. Environmental perchlorate and thiocyanate exposures could decrease breast milk iodine by competitively inhibiting NIS in lactating breasts (thus impairing infants' iodine availability), and/or infants' thyroidal NIS to directly decrease infant thyroid function. The current study assessed the relationships between environmental perchlorate and thiocyanate exposures and infant serum thyroid function.
Methods: Iodine, perchlorate, and thiocyanate in breast milk, maternal and infant urine, and infant serum thyroid function tests were cross-sectionally measured in Boston-area women and their 1-3 month-old breastfed infants. Univariate and multivariable analyses assessed relationships between iodine, perchlorate, thiocyanate, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and free thyroxine (FT4) levels.
Results: In 64 mothers and infants, median (range) iodine levels were 45.6 μg/L (4.3-1080) in breast milk, 101.9 μg/L (27-570) in maternal urine, and 197.5 μg/L (40-785) in infant urine. Median perchlorate concentrations were 4.4 μg/L (0.5-29.5) in breast milk, 3.1 μg/L (0.2-22.4) in maternal urine, and 4.7 μg/L (0.3-25.3) in infant urine. There were no correlations between infant TSH or FT4 and iodine, perchlorate, and thiocyanate levels in breast milk, maternal urine, and infant urine. In multivariable analyses, perchlorate and thiocyanate levels in breast milk, maternal urine, and infant urine were not significant predictors of infant TSH or FT4.
Conclusions: Boston-area mothers and their breastfed infants are generally iodine sufficient. Although environmental perchlorate and thiocyanate are ubiquitous, these results do not support the concern that maternal and infant environmental perchlorate and thiocyanate exposures affect infant thyroid function.