The problem of IDD continues to be underplayed and has not gained sufficient public attention as much of these
Thiruvananthapuram: Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) continue to be a public health problem in the State even though the ban on the sale of non-iodised salt has been in place since 2006.
If the prevalence of IDD at the national level is 17 per cent, in Kerala, it is 16.4 per cent, according to a State-wide survey conducted in 2000-01 as well as a subsequent resurvey in 2006. Yet, the problem of IDD continue to be underplayed and has not gained sufficient public attention as much of these disorders are non-symptomatic, speakers said at a workshop on IDD here on Wednesday.
The workshop was organised by the State unit of the National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (NIDDCP) as part of Global IDD Prevention Day.
Iodine is a micronutrient required for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, which controls the entire metabolic process. The body requires a daily intake of iodine through food and its deficiency can lead to a host of problems like delayed development, mental retardation, goitre and nervous problems, which are collectively called IDD.
The NIDDCP was launched in 1992 and the Central government also took a policy decision to iodate entire edible salt to tackle IDD.
A ban on the sale of non-iodised salt was also imposed but Kerala did not adopt the ban as the consumption of natural iodine-rich seafood is high in the State. But the survey conducted in 2000-01 in the 6-12 year age group showed the prevalence of IDD in 16.4 per cent .
But even when the ban was not in place, almost all of Kerala’s households were consuming iodised salt. Yet the prevalence of goitre is high in the State, possibly because of some dietary peculiarities of Keralites.
“Several studies have pointed out that the high consumption of tapioca, sweet potato and cabbage in the State could be one factor for the persisting prevalence of goitre despite the consumption of iodised salt. The thiocyanates in these foods can affect the absorption of iodine in the body,” U. Anuja, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, said.
The iodine content in all brands of iodised salts used in homes was also studied as part of the survey and it was found that only 48.9 per cent of the samples had adequate iodine content. But NIDDCP’s lab tests found that all brands of iodised salts in the State had sufficient iodine content.
This meant that even when people were buying iodised salt, improper storage and cooking practices were leading to the loss of iodine from the salt, she said.
Doctors also pointed out that congenital hypothyroidism in infants, caused due to iodine deficiency in mothers, was quite common.
Though it was a treatable condition, the problem often went undiagnosed as most of these infants looked normal at birth.
Unless specifically screened for thyroid functioning, the problem cannot be detected and the infants would suffer from mental and physical retardation.
The workshop stressed on the need to generate more public awareness on IDD and the importance of proper storage and consumption of iodised salt.