New Delhi: The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score of school-age children living in an iodine deficient environment is nearly 13 points less than those living in iodine sufficient environments, according to a new study.
Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) results in poor
scholastic performance, impaired mental function, retarded
physical development, learning disability, lack of energy that
will only add to a retarded social and economical growth and
poor human resource development.
The review of recent major studies related to iodine
nutrition of pregnant women in India was conducted by a team
of researchers from Indian Coalition for Control of Iodine
Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) and All India Institute of
Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
The review reveals that there is a significant iodine
deficiency in pregnant women in India leading to births of
children with low IQ level.
As part of the review undertaken to determine iodine
intake in pregnant women, nine cross sectional studies
conducted in different parts of India, namely Rajasthan, West
Bengal, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and
Maharashtra from 1993 to 2008 were reviewed.
Five out of these nine studies were community based
studies, while four studies were hospital based. Three out of
nine studies were done in rural areas and the remaining six
were done in urban/urban slum areas.
The review concluded that the percentage of pregnant
women consuming adequately iodised salt ranged from 59.5 per
cent to 95 per cent. It further revealed a significant iodine
deficiency in pregnant women in India.
"Fifty per cent of the children born every year in
India (13 million out of a total of 26 million) are
unprotected against IDDs such as brain damage and have
severely depleted levels of productivity.
"The irreversible situation of brain damage in
children could be prevented well in advance only by iodising
the salt taken by pregnant mothers as 90 per cent of human
brain development occurs between third months of pregnancy to
third year of life," Prof Chandrakant S Pandav, regional
coordinator (South Asia) of ICCIDD said.
According to World Health Organization, iodine at
critical stages of foetal life and early childhood remains
single most important and preventable causes of mental
Pregnancy is associated with profound changes in
thyroid function and consequently requirements of iodine are
increased. Thus it is imperative to their IDD status to ensure
optimal brain development of the foetus.