Adolescent boys and girls most vulnerable to endocrine disrupting chemicals

Identifying Subpopulations Vulnerable to the Thyroid-Blocking Effects of Perchlorate and Thiocyanate

Adolescents aged 12 to 21 years are two to three times more sensitive than the general population to common environmental contaminants that can disrupt thyroid function and therefore should have the latter checked, according to US researchers.

2017 Study Abstract

Common environmental contaminants can disrupt normal thyroid function, which plays essential but varying roles at different ages.

To evaluate the relationship of perchlorate, thiocyanate, and nitrate, three sodium-iodide symporter (NIS) inhibitors, and thyroid function in different age-sex-stratified populations.

Design, Setting, Participants, and Intervention
This was a cross-sectional analysis of data from the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) evaluating the exposure to perchlorate, thiocyanate, and nitrate in 3,151 participants aged 12-80.

Main Outcome Measure
Blood serum free thyroxine (FT4) as both a continuous and categorical variable. We also assessed blood serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

Controlling for serum cotinine, BMI, total daily energy consumption, race/ethnicity, and poverty-to-income ratio, for each log unit increase in perchlorate, FT4 decreased by 0.03 ng/dL in both the general population (p=0.004) and in all women (p=0.005), and by 0.06 ng/dL in adolescent girls (p=0.029), corresponding to 4% and 8% decreases relative to median FT4, respectively. For each log unit increase thiocyanate, FT4 decreased by 0.07 ng/dL in adolescent boys (p=0.003), corresponding to a 9% decrease relative to median FT4, respectively.

Our results indicate that adolescent boys and girls represent vulnerable subpopulations to the thyroid-blocking effects of NIS symporter inhibitors. These results suggest a valuable screening and intervention opportunity.

Sources and Press Releases
  • Identifying Subpopulations Vulnerable to the Thyroid-Blocking Effects of Perchlorate and Thiocyanate, Oxford University Press,, 20 April 2017.
  • Teens Most Susceptible to Endocrine Disruption From Chemicals, medscape, April 27, 2017.
  • Image credit Meena Kadri.
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