Longitudinal studies have investigated the effects of changing iodine status on thyroid disorders, but the effect of a transition from more than adequate iodine to adequate iodine on national changes in prevalence adjusted for changing risk factors remains unclear.
Two repeat nationwide surveys were conducted from 2009–2010 to 2015–2017 to assess changes in thyroid disorder prevalence and iodine status in China.
A multistage stratified random sampling method was used to obtain a nationally representative sample of urban adults aged 18 and older in mainland China in 2009 (n = 14 925) and 2015 (n = 12 553). Changes in thyroid disorder prevalence, urinary iodine concentration (UIC), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were assessed. Logistic regression models were used to examine changes in prevalence over time.
The median UIC decreased significantly from 219.7 to 175.9 μg/L (P < 0.0001). The weighted prevalence of overt hyperthyroidism, subclinical hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, and goitre decreased between 2009 and 2015 in the overall population (P < 0.05 for all). Despite no significant changes in subclinical hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism or anti-thyroid peroxidase or anti-thyroglobulin antibody positivity prevalence, a significant increase in thyroid nodule prevalence (P < 0.0001) was found in the overall population. The 2.5th TSH percentile increased by 0.15 mIU/L (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.30 mIU/L, P = 0.04) from 2009 to 2015.
With the iodine status transition from more than adequate to adequate, thyroid disorder (except for thyroid nodules) prevalence remained stable or even decreased after adjusting for confounding factors among adults in mainland China between 2009 and 2015. Additional studies are needed to explore the reasons for the increased thyroid nodule prevalence.