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A nationwide registry-based observational study of thyroid disease incidence in the Faroe Islands.

OBJECTIVE: The occurrence of thyroid disease varies among populations. While the iodine nutrition level of the Faroese seems to have been decreasing over the past decades, there is no systematic evaluation of the thyroid disease pattern in the Faroe Islands. Such knowledge of thyroid disease occurrence in the North Atlantic region may support healthcare planning and prevention. To investigate incidence rates, including subtypes of thyroid diseases, and demographic characteristics of thyroid disease patients in the Faroe Islands, to improve understanding of the patterns and trends of these disorders.

DESIGN AND METHOD: A registry-based observational study was conducted over 10 years, encompassing all adult Faroese individuals.

PATIENTS AND MEASUREMENTS: Health records from general practitioners and hospitals were used to identify incident cases of thyroid diseases. Validation was performed using multiple data sources. The incidence rates were standardised using population data from the middle of the study period 2006-2018.

RESULTS: Among the 1152 individuals diagnosed with thyroid disease, the standardised incidence rates per 100,000 person-years were 55 for hyperthyroidism and 112 for hypothyroidism, and around four times higher in women than in men. Hashimoto's thyroiditis was the dominant cause of hypothyroidism, while Graves' disease was the leading cause of hyperthyroidism. The incidence of hypothyroidism increases with age. A decreasing trend was observed over time for both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

CONCLUSION: Considering the decrease in iodine nutrition levels over the past decades, we were surprised by the high incidence of autoimmune thyroid disease. The findings highlight the need for continuous monitoring of thyroid disease occurrence in coastal areas of the North Atlantic Ocean.

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