It Does Not Have to be Fish [Archives:1997/51/Health]

December 22 1997

Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD)
As is well known, the primary and most visible iodine deficiency disorder is the enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can lead to difficulty in breathing and various psychological problems. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can damage the embryo’s brain or even lead to miscarriage. It can stunt a child’s growth, impair his senses and speech, or lead to mental retardation. Iodine deficiency often occurs among people living in mountainous regions the top, iodine-rich soil is often eroded by rain torrents. It also occurs among poor people who are unable to buy iodine-rich food such as fish. Around 5 to 10 mg of a daily iodine intake is sufficient for protecting the human body from IDDs. Six grams of Potassium iodide added to 100 kg of table salt is enough to cover the daily iodine needs of 10,000 persons, assuming that a person needs on average 10g of salt per day.
Sources of Iodine Iodine intake can come from the following sources: 1- seafood and fruits and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil; 2- drinking water – small amounts; 3- milk coming from animals feeding on grass growing in iodine-rich soil; 4- breathing iodine-saturated air in coastal regions; and 5- iodized table salt.
How to Tackle Iodine Deficiency 1- People should eat seafood at least twice weekly. 2- More vegetables, grown in the plains, should be introduced into the daily diet. 3- Iodized table salt should be used after the food is cooked. Natural salt has no iodine in it, but must be added in the form of Potassium iodide salt. 4- Iodine-rich fertilizers should be used by farmers. 5- Iodized oil can be administered in the form of injections, providing protection for 3 to 5 years, or in the form of a concentrated syrup which can remain effective for 1 to 2 years. 6- Special health inspection team should be empowered to investigate the adherence to selling and using iodized table salt by salt manufacturers, shops, restaurants, etc. The Extent of the Problem A recent field study in Yemeni has concluded that more than 60% of school children suffer from thyroid enlargement due to iodine deficiency. This results to the inability to concentrate among the students. The frightening results of this study have spurred the Yemeni health authorities to act quickly. A decision was taken to iodize table salt, and special law was enacted for this purpose. Law No. 32 of 1996 came into being obliging salt producers to iodized their product. Packs of iodized salt will be distinguished by the logo of the National Iodine Deficiency Disorder Control program (NIDD). Technical and financial assistance was provided by the UNICEF and the WHO.
Iodine Workshop The National Day for the Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control on December 11th was marked by a special workshop held by the Ministry of Health in Sanaa. It was announced during the workshop that the Ministry of Construction, Housing, and Urban Planning has formed a technical and consultative committee consisting of members from relevant bodies the health, industry agriculture sectors as well as the University of Sanaa. The committee’s task will be to ensure food hygiene by inspecting and monitoring food factories and restaurants.