Iodine Global Network (IGN)

31.08.2015   IDD Newsletter 3/2015

In this issue:
  • 'Iodine Villages' thrive across Thailand
  • U.S. non-prescription prenatal vitamins may have more iodine than stated on the label
  • Poland is iodine sufficient after 20 years of IDD monitoring
  • Modern history of iodine and the near eradication of cretinism
  • Japan's iodine status - too high or just right?
  • Tajikistan scales up efforts to tackle IDD
  • Cambodia's IDD program jeopardized by poorly iodized salt
  • Ten years of a national coalition for sustained optimal iodine intake in India
  • GAIN-UNICEF Partnership Project


Iodine villages thrive across Thailand

(Sangsom Sinawat and Saipin Chotivichien)
Thailand first launched its National IDD Elimination Program in 1989. A National Committee for IDD Control was established two years later, and it has been presided over by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The Ministry of Public Health together with collaborating agencies spearheaded the implementation of effective strategies to prevent and control IDD, with a focus on universal salt iodization (USI). To track the country’s progress towards IDD elimination, regular monitoring has included measuring iodine levels in iodized salt at the point of production, distribution, and in the household, and urinary iodine concentration (UIC) in pregnant women.

U.S. non-prescription prenatal vitamins may contain more iodine than stated on the label

(Abridged from: USDA Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database, Release 3.0 (DSID-3).)
Dietary supplementation is commonly recommended during pregnancy and lactation, although few reports document the extent of this practice in North America. These reports suggest that well over half of pregnant and breastfeeding women take a dietary supplement, and that usage is likely greater during pregnancy than lactation. Collecting intake data in this population is critical to understand the extent to which the supplements contribute to the overall nutrient intake, and help implement future recommendations.

Poland remains iodine sufficient after 20 years of IDD prevention, but pregnant women may be at risk

(Zbigniew Szybinski, MD, PhD; IGN National Coordinator for Poland)
After the end of the Cold War, studies conducted during 1991–1996 confirmed the presence of iodine deficiency in Poland. A Thyromobil study of schoolchildren in 1992–1993 identified a high prevalence of goiter in mountainous areas: 56.6% in the Sudeten, and 39.1% in the Southeastern region. Only a few years previously, a Ministry of Health program to examine the effects of the Chernobyl disaster in Poland reported a high frequency of goiter in adults.

The modern history of iodine and the near eradication of cretinism

(Sana Syed MD, MSc)
The eradication of intellectual disability from iodine deficiency in Western countries is one of the great public health triumphs of 20th-century child health care (1). Yet the problem persists today in many parts of the world (2). This article explores why a strategy so successful in the West has proven difficult to export to certain other contexts, and how new kinds of thinking may point the way forward.

Japan’s iodine status – too high or just right?

(Yozen Fuse, MD. PhD, Yoshimasa Shishiba, MD., PhD, Minoru Irie, MD., PhD,)
Unlike in most other countries, where dietary iodine comes from bread, dairy products, fish, and iodized salt, in Japan the primary source of iodine is seaweed. Nori (Porphyra), Wakame (Undaria) and Kombu (Laminaria) are the most popular seaweed products in the country. The highest iodine content (approximately 2,400 mcg/g) is found in Kombu, edible kelp, which is consumed widely throughout East Asia. Kombu extract is often an ingredient of pre-packaged processed foods; however, the iodine it provides is often not listed on the label.

Tajikistan scales-up efforts to tackle iodine deficiency

(Greg S. Garrett and Mutriba Latypova)
In July 2015, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Tajikistan, GAIN, USAID and UNICEF co-convened a national two-day roundtable entitled, “Food Fortification: From Policy to Health Impact.” This event advanced ongoing fortification and iodization efforts by providing an overview of the successes and challenges in the USI programme and some proposed solutions.

Cambodia's IDD program jeopardized by poorly iodized salt

(Arnaud Laillou, Borath Mam, Sam Oeurn and Chantum Chea)
Iodine deficiency disorders have long been recognized as a significant public health issue in Cambodia. In the late 1990s, a national survey showed that 17% of primary school children were affected by goiter. In 1996, the Royal Government of Cambodia established the National Sub-Committee for the Control of IDD (NSCIDD), and Universal Salt Iodization has been the primary intervention to improve the population’s iodine status.

Ten years of a national coalition for sustained optimal iodine intake in India

(Excerpted from: Yadav K. et al. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2014, 23(Suppl 1))
Ensuring that iodine-fortified salt reaches every pregnant woman and infant–the primary target group in the population, is a challenging task. Many stakeholders are involved in the production of raw salt, iodization, transportation, distribution, wholesale trading, retailing, and purchase before iodized salt can reach the household. Each of these stakeholders must function optimally to ensure that adequately iodized salt reaches the target consumers. IDD control initiatives at a global and national level have long been recognised as multi-sectoral initiatives. For any public health program’s success, consensus is required amongst all stakeholders to move together, forward, and faster.

National iodine surveys conclude the 7-year USI Partnership Project

(Jacky Knowles)
In the final year of the 14-country, sevenyear GAIN-UNICEF USI Partnership Project, GAIN, UNICEF and partners have conducted national household iodized salt coverage surveys in most countries. In some of the countries, data on iodine status was collected as well. The results of these surveys should provide a much needed update for many countries which are still scaling up their salt iodization efforts, and they will inform national iodine strategies moving forward.