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Mothers' Urinary Iodine Excretion, and
 Her and Her Neonates' Thyroid Function and
 Neonate Weight: Their
Mathematical Relationships

Making Medicine
a Hard Science

Dr. John C. Lowe
February 6, 2011

It is rare that Thyroid Science introduces and lauds an individual paper—especially one that involves exceptionally highly technical information.[1] (The last such paper we published was engineer Peter Warmingham's 2010 TSH hypothesis, which was a conceptual breakthrough in clinical thyroidology.) The paper I describe here certainly contains highly technical mathematical and statistical information; comprehending its equations is a talent shared only by a minority who are erudite in mathematics, statistics, and quantitative logic.

Please note, however: I ask that our subscribers—whether highly quantitative in their thinking or nay!—not turn away from this special paper we present today; instead, I ask that they attend to the author's summarized conclusions (Section 5) and the various noteworthy merits of both his paper and his approach.

For example, I strongly encourage our readers to seriously consider the findings of the analyses within the paper concerning mothers, their neonates, and the health implications for each. And I earnestly ask that readers consider the extremely important implication of the author's scientific spirit.

This special paper of today is that of Rabindra Nath Das, PhD. He is  Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, The University of Burdwan, Burdwan, West Bengal, India. Prof. Das reveals something in his paper that to me is of extreme importance. I do not believe that the revelation came from any direct intent of Prof. Das; instead, this important "something" came from his natural tendency toward exacting precision, and from his extraordinary expertise as a mathematician and statistician.

Upon my first of many readings of Prof. Das' manuscript, that "something" I refer to was clear to me. It was clear by comparison with literally thousands of medical journal papers I have read over the years. By comparison with Prof. Das' paper, the vast majority of those medical papers have contained hazy, soft-edged statements of relationships in and between biochemistry, physiology, pathology, and diagnosis. (Please note, my valued medical colleagues, that among those papers with hazy, soft-edged statement are my very own!)

The contrast that Prof. Das humbly gives us (and I assure you of his admirable humility) derives from a form of high-level statistical analysis. Through this analytical method, he has objectified relationships within a particular area of thyroidology. The mathematical models he derived led him to relationships the clarity of which are rarely seen within medical science.

The relationships Das objectifies are between the iodine excretion of mothers' urine, the mothers’ thyroid status, the thyroid status of the mothers’ neonates, and the neonates’ weights. Prof. Das reveals the relationships through quantitative models that cast clear light on the types of relationships that typically are buried beneath doubt-sustaining complexity in what we blithely call "medical science." We at Thyroid Science are proud today to make clinical thyroidology the benefactor of Pro. Das’ statistical sapience. We believe that through confidence in his objectified mathematical relationships, more clinicians may provide neonates with normal neurological development, and in fact may save more neonates' lives.

Gene sequencing and positron emission tomography are impressive technologies. But high-tech instruments—without advanced  mathematics—do not make a a highly advanced science. As the 19th century mathematical physicist Lord Kelvin wrote, "To measure is to know." To measure with highly advanced mathematical modeling, as does Prof. Das, makes possible the greatest advances of science—even within the primordial investigative field of medicine.  Carry us further aloft Prof. Das!

Dr. John C. Lowe

Advancing Science. As Prof. Das wrote, “The models [which he statistically derived] support most of the facts observed in clinical practice.” From his statement, one might ask, if the models support observations already within clinical practice, then why bother to objectify them? My answer is predated by three and a half decades by Dr. David Horrobin.

Horrobin was the brilliant founder and Editor-in-Chief of Medical Hypotheses. The quality of his intellectual and scientific work in medicine was validated by his close working relationships with the likes of Prof. Linus Pauling, Sir Karl Popper, Dr. Author C. Guyton, Sir John Eccles, and Sir James Black.

Upon inaugurating Medical Hypotheses, Horrobin wrote that medical science is "primitive and unsophisticated.”[2] I contend that his indictment is as true today as it was when Horrobin published it thirty-five years ago. And today, my staunch belief is this: Only when scientists such as Prof. Das use exacting mathematical methods in medical science will some medical notions be elevated to the level of the equation-derived propositions of physics and cosmology; and only then will the term "medical science” cease to be a ludicrous contradiction of terms.

Few of us comprehend the equations that Prof. Das derives from the statistical method (“joint generalized linear modeling”) he used to analyze the maternal and neonatal data in his study. But readers do not have to comprehend Das' equations or statistical method to gain from his publication. As I noted above, Das kindly incorporated his nine precise conclusions in Section 5 of his paper. These are easily comprehended by common linguistics.

Health and Life of Neonates. Professor Das’ statistical work with maternal urinary iodine and its maternal and neonatal covariates leads to another important conclusion: As he notes, the risk of brain damage and neonatal mortality, rather than goiter, have become the main reasons to advocate urgent correction of iodine deficiency. Why the urgency? Because neonates are more sensitive than children and adults to the effects of iodine deficiency. This is true because the pool of iodine within the neonate’s thyroid gland is much smaller than in adults; also, the neonate's gland has a relatively accelerated iodine turnover rate.

Conclusion. Prof. Das’ firm statistical findings have profound implications for normal brain development and even the survival of newborns. And his method exemplifies the approach upon which advanced sciences were raised to their present exalting heights.

To me, then, Das’ exemplary work has both solid medical and scientific implications, as well as highly practical and humanitarian ones. Some of us may not comprehend his equations as easily as we do his prose. But despite this, the importance of Prof. Rabin Das' work for the advancement of medical care and medical science is unmistakable.


Das, R.N.: The role of iodine in the thyroid status of mothers and their neonates. Thyroid Sci., 6(2):1-15, 2011.

2. Horrobin, D.F.: Ideas in biomedical science: reasons for the foundation of medical hypotheses. Med. Hypotheses, 1(1):1, 1975.

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