Vietnam hit by iodine deficiency again

HANOI: Iodine deficiency, which can causes mental retardation, has come back to Vietnam, especially in mountain communities, the country’s National Hospital of Endo­cri­nology said.

According to the hospital’s latest survey, some 60% of households use sufficient amounts of iodine, and the rate of children aged eight to 10 having goitre are 9.8%.

In the 2005 to 2006 period, 93% of families used sufficient amounts of iodine, mostly in the form of iodised salt, and few people suffered goitre.

A key reason for the iodine deficiency comeback is that Vietnam’s iodised salt mandate was repealed in 2006 and programme administration budgets were slashed by 90%, said the Iodine Global Net­work, a non-profit organisation for the sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency worldwide.

After a 1993 survey found schoolchildren consumed only 32mg of iodine daily, a third of the recommended level, Vietnam mandated all food salt be iodised. The iodine deficiency disorder problem was under control by 1995.

Some foreign experts have recently advised the Vietnamese government to make salt iodisation mandatory once again or at least promote the production and use of iodised salt, cooking powder and fish source.

According to the World Health Organisation, iodine deficiency disorders jeopardise children’s mental health and often their very survival, while serious iodine deficiency du­ring pregnancy can result in stillbirth, spontaneous abortion and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism, a grave, irreversible form of mental retardation. — Xinhua

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