MORE THAN A PINCH OF SALT

Sus­tained io­dine nu­tri­tion is es­sen­tial to re­duce child mor­tal­ity and im­prove ma­ter­nal health

India Today - - HEALTH SPECIAL -

Io­dine de­fi­ciency, one of the most com­mon mi­cronu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies, has a piv­otal role in growth, de­vel­op­ment and sur­vival of chil­dren. The spec­trum of Io­dine De­fi­ciency Dis­or­ders ( IDD) in­cludes goitre, cre­tinism, hy­pothy­roidism, brain dam­age, abor­tion, still­birth, men­tal re­tar­da­tion, psy­cho- mo­tor de­fects and hear­ing and speech im­pair­ment. Preg­nant and lac­tat­ing women are at in­creased risk of IDD as dur­ing preg­nancy and lac­ta­tion, the io­dine re­quire­ment is in­creased to meet the needs of both mother and child. Io­dine de­fi­ciency dur­ing this crit­i­cal “thou­sand day” pe­riod leads to se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

Sus­tained io­dine nu­tri­tion is es­sen­tial to achieve the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals ( MDG) of re­duc­ing child mor­tal­ity and im­prov­ing ma­ter­nal health. IDD is the most com­mon cause of pre­ventable brain dam­age glob­ally. Chil­dren born in io­dine- de­fi­cient ar­eas are known to have 13.5 IQ points less than those born in io­dine- suf­fi­cient ar­eas. A re­port by US- based Jour­nal of Eco­nomic Growth has shown that an in­cre­ment of national aver­age IQ by one point leads to 0.11 per cent in­crease in national GDP.

Io­dine is an es­sen­tial mi­cronu­tri­ent which is needed in a minute quan­tity daily. The to­tal quan­tity of io­dine present in body is 15- 20 mg, most of which is in the thy­roid gland. The rec­om­mended daily al­lowance of io­dine for adults is 150 mi­cro­grams/ day, which in­creases to 250 mi­cro­grams/ day in preg­nancy and lac­ta­tion. Chil­dren re­quire 90- 120 mi­cro­grams/ day of io­dine de­pend­ing on their age. In In­dia, around 400 mil­lion peo­ple are at risk of IDD due to in­suf­fi­cient io­dine in­take. IDD is en­demic in the coun­try with 303 out of 365 dis­tricts sur­veyed re­port­ing to­tal goitre rate ( TGR) greater than 10 per cent.

Op­ti­mal io­dine nu­tri­tion is es­sen­tial for a healthy so­ci­ety. The Govern­ment of In­dia should en­sure at­tain­ment of univer­sal cov­er­age of salt iodi­s­a­tion and sus­tain­able elim­i­na­tion of IDD.

Dr Chan­drakant

S. Pan­dav Head of the depart­ment,

Cen­tre for Com­mu­nity Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi

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