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Iodine Deficiency

Iodine Deficiency

Global health experts announced (12/1/99) in a news conference in Bogota, Colombia that iodine deficiency continues to be a serious threat to global health, cautioning that problems far more serious than the enlarged thyroid known as a goiter can result.

While iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is not a common problem in the U.S., it is on the rise in the U.S. as well. The October, 1998 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that over the last 20 years, the percentage of Americans with low intake of iodine has more than quadrupled. the researchers indicated that this trend may necessitate concerted efforts to increase iodine levels in people at risk of deficiency. Earlier in this century, iodized salt almost wiped out iodine deficiency in the U.S. The first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), which took place between 1971 - 1974, found that just 2.6% of US citizens had iodine deficiency. The followup NHANES III survey, conducted between 1988 - 1994, found that 11.7% are iodine deficient. Of particular concern is the fact that the percentage of iodine-deficient pregnant women has increased from 1% in 1974 to 7% in 1994. Maternal iodine deficiency is particularly dangerous to a developing fetus.'' The researchers do not have a cause for the drop in levels, though it is suspected that reduced salt in the diet, plus a reduction in the use of iodine as a food ingredient, may be responsible.

Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) ignificant public health problem in 130 countries. While remarkable measurable progress is being made through universal salt iodization, there are nearly 50 million people who are estimated to still be affected by some degrees of IDD-related brain damage.

It affects 740 million people a year. It causes brain disorders, cretinism, miscarriages and goiter. It is the world's single most important and preventable cause of mental retardation. And it is almost unknown. Equally unknown is the success in eradicating it. Calling it "one of our best kept secrets" the World Health Organization has rededicated itself to eliminating Iodine Deficiency Disorder through an intense programme of salt iodisation and iodine delivery within the next decade.

One-third of the world's population is estimated to be at risk of IDD. Since the passage of a special resolution at the World Health Assembly in 1990 and subsequent resolutions in 1992 and 1996, the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) of WHO has worked tirelessly to establish iodisation programmes around the world.
Iodine is found in various foods, including seafood, small amounts of iodized salt, and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soils. Iodine-containing mist from the ocean is another important source of iodine, since iodine is absorbed by the skin. Iodized salt provides 76 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per gram of salt..