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The association between prenatal exposure to organochlorine compounds and neonatal thyroid hormone levels: a systematic review

Mahshid Gheidarloo, Roya Kelishadi, Silva Hovsepian, Mojtaba Keikha and Mahin Hashemipour


In this systematic review, the association between prenatal exposure to organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and neonatal thyroid hormone levels was studied. A systematic search of scientific literature was performed from the PubMed, SCOPUS and ISI web of science electronic bibliographic databases. The search strategy for the review was [(organochlorine OR “organochlorine pesticides” OR “organochlorine pollutants” OR “organochlorine pollutant”) AND (“thyroid hormone” OR triiodothyronine OR Thyroxine OR “fetal thyroid function” OR “thyroid function” OR “Thyroid Stimulating Hormone” AND “prenatal” AND “maternal exposure”)] in English sources. In this review, 305 papers (PubMed: 30; Scopus: 29; ISI: 246) were identified through an electronic database search. Twenty-seven articles were assessed for eligibility, from which 16 qualified articles were selected for the final evaluation. The most common OCP metabolites which were evaluated in order were hexachlorobenzene (HCB) (13 studies), pp-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (pp-DDE) (13 studies), hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) (10 studies) and dichlorodiphenyltrichlorethane (DDT) (eight studies). A review of the documents related to the association of prenatal exposure of OCPs with fetal or neonatal thyroid function tests provides us with heterogeneous data in this field. Factors such as differences in the studied populations and their area, ethnic and genetic background, time and rate of exposure, possible interaction of other thyroid-disrupting environmental factors and dietary intake of micronutrients such as iodine and/or selenium are considered the main limitations for making an accurate conclusion. For some OCPs including DDT, DDE, HCH and HCB, there are supporting evidences, and it is suggested that their exposure could potentially alter the fetal thyroid function and consequently impair the neurodevelopment process of the infants.

Corresponding author: Prof. Mahin Hashemipour, Isfahan Endocrine and Metabolism Research Center, Pediatrics Department, Child Growth and Development Research Center, Research Institute for Primordial Prevention of Non-communicable Disease, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

  1. Author contribution: All authors contributed in the conception, design and all stages of the review study. All authors contributed in the preparing the draft of the manuscript and all of them read and confirmed the final version of the manuscript.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2019-07-20
Accepted: 2019-10-18
Published Online: 2019-12-19
Published in Print: 2020-01-28

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