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Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage. Today we are on the verge of eliminating it – an achievement that will be hailed as a major public health triumph that ranks with getting rid of smallpox and poliomyelitis.
Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), which can start before birth, jeopardize children’s mental health and often their very survival. Serious iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism, a grave, irreversible form of mental retardation that affects people living in iodine-deficient areas of Africa and Asia. However, of far greater significance is IDD’s less visible, yet pervasive, mental impairment that reduces intellectual capacity at home, in school and at work.
A few salient facts
- Iodine deficiency is one of the main cause of impaired cognitive development in children.
- The number of countries where iodine deficiency is a public health problem has halved over the past The number of countries where iodine deficiency is a public health problem has halved over the past decade according to a new global report on iodine status.
- 54 countries are still iodine-deficient.
- Efforts are required to strengthen sustainable salt ionization programmes.