Article Text

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


Objective 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.

Design Systematic review.

Search strategy Electronic searches were conducted using Medline and the Cochrane Library.

Eligibility criteria 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.

Results 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.

Conclusions 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.

  • thyroid hormones
  • iodine
  • toxicity
  • Neonatology
  • systematic review

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.