Volume 3 Issue 12 - June 15, 2005

Iodine deficiency leading cause of mental retardation: Study

DNIS News Network - Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of mental retardation among pregnant women and newborn babies, and such cases are on the rise, according to a recent study conducted by Centre for Social Medicine in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (A.I.I.M.S.).

It is estimated that 20 crore Indians are at risk of developing Iodine Deficiency Disorder (I.D.D.), and about seven crore are afflicted by disorders like goitre, mental retardation, speech/ hearing problems, and mobility related problems.

The study made these revelations following a national sample survey, which included 25 states and four union territories. It was found that among 275 districts that were covered by the survey, about 233 had rampant cases of iodine deficiency related disorders.

Children in regions traditionally having cases of iodine deficiency have lower Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.) compared to their counterparts in other regions. The average difference is as much as 13 points. Children suffering from iodine deficiency may look physically normal, but they lag in studies because of poor intelligence.

Experts say that by the age of three, about 90 per cent of physical brain growth is completed and if the mother suffers from iodine deficiency during pregnancy the newborn is likely to develop mental retardation.

The easiest and most effective way of dealing with iodine deficiency is the use of iodized salt. The state and union governments have over past several decades been running campaigns for raising awareness on the issue and use of iodine-laced salt.

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