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Journal of Thyroid Research
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 710178, 12 pages
Review Article

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis in Infants and Children: Protection from Radioiodines

1National Center for Toxicological Research, US FDA, 3900 NCTR Road, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA
2College of Public Health, University of Georgia, 115 DW Brooks Dr, Barrow Hall, Room 001B, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham Street, Slot 820-11, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA

Received 10 January 2014; Accepted 7 May 2014; Published 25 May 2014

Academic Editor: Massimo Tonacchera

Copyright © 2014 Jeffrey Fisher et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Potassium iodide (KI) is recommended as an emergency treatment for exposure to radioiodines, most commonly associated with nuclear detonation or mishaps at nuclear power plants. Protecting the thyroid gland of infants and children remains a priority because of increased incidence of thyroid cancer in the young exposed to radioiodines (such as 131I and 133I). There is a lack of clinical studies for KI and radioiodines in children or infants to draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness and safety of KI administration in the young. In this paper, we compare functional aspects of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis in the young and adults and review the limited studies of KI in children. The HPT axis in the infant and child is hyperactive and therefore will respond less effectively to KI treatment compared to adults. Research on the safety and efficacy of KI in infants and children is needed.