Estimation of iodine nutrition and thyroid function status in late-gestation pregnant women in the United States: Development and application of a population-based pregnancy model

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Previously, a deterministic biologically-based dose-response (BBDR) pregnancy model was developed to evaluate moderate thyroid axis disturbances with and without thyroid-active chemical exposure in a near-term pregnant woman and fetus. In the current study, the existing BBDR model was adapted to include a wider functional range of iodine nutrition, including more severe iodine deficiency conditions, and to incorporate empirically the effects of homeostatic mechanisms. The extended model was further developed into a population-based model and was constructed using a Monte Carlo-based probabilistic framework. In order to characterize total (T4) and free (fT4) thyroxine levels for a given iodine status at the population-level, the distribution of iodine intake for late-gestation pregnant women in the U.S was reconstructed using various reverse dosimetry methods and available biomonitoring data. The range of median (mean) iodine intake values resulting from three different methods of reverse dosimetry tested was 196.5–219.9 μg of iodine/day (228.2–392.9 μg of iodine/day). There was minimal variation in model-predicted maternal serum T4 and ft4 thyroxine levels from use of the three reconstructed distributions of iodine intake; the range of geometric mean for T4 and fT4, was 138–151.7 nmol/L and 7.9–8.7 pmol/L, respectively. The average value of the ratio of the 97.5th percentile to the 2.5th percentile equaled 3.1 and agreed well with similar estimates from recent observations in third-trimester pregnant women in the U.S. In addition, the reconstructed distributions of iodine intake allowed us to estimate nutrient inadequacy for late-gestation pregnant women in the U.S. via the probability approach. The prevalence of iodine inadequacy for third-trimester pregnant women in the U.S. was estimated to be between 21% and 44%. Taken together, the current work provides an improved tool for evaluating iodine nutritional status and the corresponding thyroid function status in pregnant women in the U.S. This model enables future assessments of the relevant risk of thyroid hormone level perturbations due to exposure to thyroid-active chemicals at the population-level.HighlightsA population-based thyroid function model for pregnant women was developed.The model was used specifically study the late-gestation pregnant women in the U.S.The prevalence of iodine inadequacy was estimated in the sub-population studied.Developed model well predicts trimester-specific thyroid hormone reference ranges.The model can be further used to study thyroid perturbations at a population level.

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