We evaluated the incidence of childhood thyroid diseases and urinary iodine levels in Nagasaki, Japan and in Gomel, Belarus, which was greatly radio-contaminated by the Chernobyl accident, in order to obtain the comparative data of thyroid diseases between iodine-rich (Japan) and -deficient (Belarus) areas. In Nagasaki, the median level of urinary iodine, measured by ammonium persulfate digestion in microplate method, was 362.9 microg/L. In order to evaluate the geographical differences in Japan, other samples were collected in Hamamatsu and in South Kayabe, Hokkaido, where the median levels were 208.4 microg/L and 1015.5 microg/L, respectively. Furthermore, thyroid screening by ultrasound (US) in Nagasaki revealed only four cases that showed goiter (1.6%) and two cases (0.8%) that had cystic degeneration and single thyroid cyst. There was no evidence of thyroid nodule detected by US examination. In contrast, the median of urinary iodine level was 41.3 microg/L in Gomel. The incidences of goiter (13.6%) and echogenic abnormality (1.74%) in Gomel were much higher than in Nagasaki, suggesting the critical involvement of iodine deficiency in increased childhood thyroid abnormality around Chernobyl. Radioactive iodine released just after the Chernobyl accident may have influenced predominantly children residing in iodine-deficient areas. Our results suggest that management of thyroid screening for schoolchildren at ordinary times may be beneficial for monitoring the adverse effects of radioactive iodine from the standpoint of future prospective study.
These children should not be followed up, all their lesions – cysts and nodules should immediately be biopsied to assess whether or not they are malignant. They are appearing very early, less than one year, and we would not normally expect them to appear for about 5 to 10 years, which means these children received a very high dose. If they are malignant then they will need total thyroidectomies. It is not normal at all for children to have thyroid nodules or cysts!