B S Hetzel, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, SA, Australia
© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Iodine deficiency is discussed as a risk factor for the growth and development of up to 2.2 million people living in iodine-deficient environments in 130
countries throughout the world. The effects of iodine deficiency on growth and development, called the iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), comprise goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), stillbirths and miscarriages, neonatal and juvenile thyroid deficiency, dwarfism, mental defects, deaf mutism, and spastic weakness and paralysis, as well as lesser degrees of loss of physical and mental function.
Iodine deficiency is now accepted by the World Health Organization as the most common preventable cause of brain damage in the world today.
Since 1990, a major international health program to eliminate iodine deficiency has developed that uses iodized salt. The progress of this program and the continuing challenge are discussed as a great opportunity for the elimination of a noninfectious disease, which is quantitatively a greater scourge than the infectious diseases of smallpox and polio.
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