Society for Endocrinology BES 2011
New research suggests that the UK population is iodine
deficient, and a full review of iodine status may be necessary.
Results of a systematic assessment reveal that 69% of
urine samples gathered from 810 UK girls aged 14 to 15 years were lower than
100 mcg/L, which suggests iodine deficiency according to WHO standards. In
addition, 18% had levels that were lower than 50 mcg/L. All urinary iodine
excretion levels were collected during the summer of 2009 and winter of 2009 to
“Our data suggest the UK is now
iodine-deficient, warranting a full investigation of the UK
iodine status. We need to look into this now to decide whether public health
bodies need to step in,” Vanderpump said.
The researchers noted a difference in summer vs. winter
iodine status, with the median nadir reaching 76 mcg/L in summer. A positive
association with milk intake was also observed, although other foods, ethnicity
and city of origin appeared to play no role in iodine status.
“We are very concerned about these findings as the
consequences of iodine deficiency are grave: iodine-deficient communities score
lower in IQ tests, and even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy causes
serious mental impairments in children,” Mark Vanderpump, MD,
consultant physician and honorary senior lecturer in diabetes and
endocrinology at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, said in a press release.
The researchers pointed out that their results are
consistent with recent reports of low iodine status in other countries, such as
Australia and the United States, and urged researchers to initiate a larger
study to confirm the data. They also said their study highlights the need for
evidence-based recommendations regarding iodine prophylaxis and public health.
“The WHO has made
deficiency a global priority and has been campaigning for at-risk countries
to add iodine to their salt, a campaign which has been very successful,”
Vanderpump said. “If it turns out that we do have a problem, this could be
a most viable solution.”
The study was conducted on behalf of the British Thyroid
Association and was funded by the Clinical Endocrinology Trust.
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