Iodine Global Network (IGN)

How Cres Eastman saved a million brains (Australia)

Endocrinologist Creswell Eastman does crucial work around the world, preventing birth defects caused by Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Professor Creswell (Cres) Eastman has led projects to abolish Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) throughout the developing world.

Children born to mothers deficient in iodine can suffer a range of defects including mental retardation, deafness, and speech and physical impairments.

Over the past decades, Cres and his teams have been effective in Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Tibet. His transformative work with populations in remote areas of China led him to be dubbed "the man who saved a million brains". During his first visits to Tibet, Cres discovered that 13 per cent of the population were born with cretinism as the result of iodine deficiency. In the course of his field work in Asia, Cres almost lost his life to altitude sickness.

Cres' current focus is on the recurring problem of IDD in Australian and Thai populations. He is concerned that IDD may be affecting the ability of Australian children, and in particular, Indigenous Australian children, to perform at school.

Here is also a short excerpt from ABC's documentary about Cres' work in Tibet and China ("The Man Who Saved a Million Brains" directed in 2005 by Kate Riedl).