Healthcare Treatment Guidelines

1. A teaspoon of iodine is all a person requires in a lifetime, but because iodine cannot be stored for long periods by the body, tiny amounts are needed regularly. As iodine is only found in soil, humans receive their iodine by consuming animal products and plants.

2. The solution to IDD is relatively simple and inexpensive. Food fortification has proven to be a highly successful and sustainable intervention. Iodized salt programs and iodized oil supplements are the most common tools in the fight against IDD.

3. Iodized salt is the first choice for intervention because it is universally and regularly consumed, costs very low per person annually and is manufactured with simple technology.

4. A reliable method of assessing the extent of IDD in a population is to determine the urinary iodine excretion levels in a vulnerable group. Pregnant mothers are a susceptible group for assessing iodine deficiency, as the iodine requirements during this physiological state are comparatively high.

5. High TSH levels are an indicator of low iodine levels. TSH helps the thyroid gland capture iodine from the blood, so if little iodine is available, the body increases its production of TSH to try and capture more. In a population with sufficient iodine, fewer than three per cent of newborns should have a TSH concentration over 5mIU/L, says the WHO. Dietary changes are responsible for the lack of iodine.

6. Health education is a effective way to eradicate IDD, where messages related to IDD are disseminated and the schoolteachers can be requested to visit children’s homes to check living conditions and to check if they are consuming iodized salt and if the iodine content of the salt they consume is adequate. A public awareness program before and during pregnancy would be good for iodine.

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  • Iodizing table salt is one of the best and least expensive methods of preventing IDD. The targets is the elimination of IDD through universal salt iodization.Where salt iodization has been in place for over five years, improvement in iodine status has been overwhelming. Over the last decade, the number of countries with salt iodization programmes doubled, rising from 46 to 93.

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  • Adding iodine to salt is a simple manufacturing process does not cost more per person annually. However, if it is not done, children with IDD can grow up stunted, apathetic, mentally retarded and incapable of normal movement, speech or hearing. Even marginal deficiency may reduce a child’s mental development by about 10%. Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) jeopardize children’s mental health – often their very lives. They start before birth. Serious iodine deficiency during pregnancy may result in stillbirths, abortions and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism, a grave, irreversible form of mental retardation that affects people living in iodine-deficient areas of Asia. However, of far greater global and economic significance is IDD’s less visible, yet more pervasive, level of mental impairment that lowers intellectual prowess at home, at school and at work.

    Guatemala proved unequivocally that iodized salt — salt treated with potassium iodine or iodide — dramatically reduces the incidence of IDDs. Mandatory iodization of salt, which was introduced by Switzerland in 1922, virtually eliminated the “village idiot” from the gallery of European archetypes, although IDD lingers on in pockets there and is quite severe in poorer countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. The United States and a few other developed nations, including Australia and the Scandinavian countries, have completely conquered the problem. There are certain geographical areas where soil and therefore crops and grazing animals do not provide sufficient dietary iodine to the populace. This can be in areas with excessive rains and flooding, mountainous habitations.

    In the developing world, the roadblocks to wiping out such a widespread public health scourge are much higher. Sub-Saharan Africa, China, Indonesia and the vast region bordering the Himalayas are particularly affected. But there, too, the disease is on the run: UNICEF, which has led the international battle against IDDs, estimates that iodized salt programs have protected 12 million children a year from brain damage.

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  • Iodine is a micronutrient, a trace element that occurs naturally in the soil. Although replenished somewhat by the cycle of evaporation and rain, the earth’s soil is gradually being stripped of iodine. Because the human body cannot retain iodine (unlike most other micronutrients), the vegetables and pulses that are iodine-rich must be consumed daily. Hence the worst cases of iodine deficiency are found in the highland regions of the world, areas of greatest soil degradation, where vegetables and pulses have the lowest content of iodine (seaweed, which was used in ancient times as a cure for goiter, has the highest iodine content). However, there is no region in India free of IDD. It is found in the major cities as well as in distant villages.

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  • list of problems: cretinism, stunting, deaf-mutism, malformed limbs, spastic motor disorders, stillbirths, reproductive failure, and poor vision.

    • Severe iodine deficiency in pregnant women can result in babies being born with physical and mental retardation.

    • Goiter (a grotesque swelling of the thyroid gland on the neck), as well as milder forms of mental and physical impairment. Goiter, a large swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck, is a chronic iodine deficiency disease.

    • Goiter, cretinism, and delayed mental and physical development are collectively known as IDD.

    • Irregular heartbeat, hardening of the arteries, obesity, low blood pressure, angina, arthritis, hair and skin problems, breast cancer, etc. can all be traced to chronic low levels of iodine.

    • Excessive salivation, feeling as if something has been neglected, forgotten or left unfinished (which prevents contentment and peace), hearing deterioration, sense of odor is missing, and restlessness at sunset (sensitivity to the electrical changes in the environment).

    • The problem of cataracts comes from the calcium being out of solution (in the blood), due to lack of iodine.

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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, ranking together with smallpox and poliomyelitis. Less than 20 years ago, few people realized the magnitude of the problem, let alone the solution. However, since the 1980s, WHO has been at the forefront of a worldwide public health drive to eliminate this under-publicized yet devastating deficiency. The WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) provides both technical tools – scientifically sound standards, guidelines and methodologies – and guidance to build up countries’ national salt iodization programmes. Progress has been significant since the primary intervention strategy for IDD control – Universal Salt Iodization (USI) – was adopted in 1993. Salt was chosen because it is widely available and consumed in regular amounts throughout the year, and because the costs of iodizing it are extremely low. In 1990, the World Summit for Children, UNICEF and the World Health Organization committed to virtually eliminate IDD by promoting the iodisation of salt and its use. However, to date, while global significant progress towards reducing iodine deficiency disorders has taken place over the past decade, much still remains to be accomplished.

    Iodine deficiency, one of the world’s oldest and most devastating nutrition-related health problems. Iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs) are the leading cause of mental retardation in the world.

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  • Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) is a public health problem and in India, no state is free from iodine deficiency. About 200 million people are ‘at risk’ of IDD in India.

    A few salient facts

    o IDD affects over 740 million people, 13% of the world’s population; 30% of the remainder are at risk.

    o IDD preys upon poor, pregnant women and preschool children, posing serious public health problems in 130 developing countries.

    o Iodine deficiency is a problem for the developing brains of foetuses and young children. According to the WHO, it is the single greatest cause of mental retardation. In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the foetus relies on its mother directly for thyroid hormone. After that, it uses iodine from the mother to make its own.

    o Iodine-deficient people may forfeit 15 IQ points.

    o Nearly 50 million people suffer from some degree of IDD-related brain damage. Yet we have the means to prevent it – small quantities of iodine at low cost.

    The answer to iodine deficiency disorders is iodized salt. A spectacularly simple, universally effective, wildly attractive and incredibly cheap technical weapon – IODIZED SALT.



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