Over 37% of children aged 8-10 years suffer from iodine deficiency

Over 37% of the children aged 8-10 years have their thyroid gland abnormally enlarged – malformation most often associated with iodine deficiency. The diseases caused by iodine deficiency and programmes for their prevention formed the key part of the discussions held at the recent meeting of the Investigative Journalism Club, organised in concert with UNICEF. UNICEF programme coordinator Svetlana Stefanet spoke about the success of the first Iodine Deficiency Prevention National Programme, adopted in 1998, which consisted of promoting the consumption of iodated salt. According to Svetlana Stefanet, the number of families that use iodated table salt increased from 33% in 2000 to 59.2% in 2005. However, the situation is still unfavourable, since a total national prevention of iodine deficiency requires the number to reach 100%, as well as an increase in the number of households which use iodated salt for canning food, which is currently only 12%, said Stefanet. The second programme, adopted on June 1, 2007, envisages prioritising the use of iodated salt in the food industry. The chief of the food hygiene department of the National Scientific-Practical Centre for Preventive Medicine, Galina Obreja, mentioned that besides the visible symptoms, iodine deficiency provokes a series of hidden states that affect especially the developing brain of the children. Therefore, iodine deficiency influences the cognitive abilities, provokes somnolence and fatigue, leads to an increased number of abortions, premature deliveries and infant mortality, hearing loss, and can even lead to cretinism, Galina Obreja explained.

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