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Op-Ed

Iodine Deficiency Disorder

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By EMN Updated: Oct 21, 2016 12:07 am
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Iodine Deficiency Disorder is a public health problem all over the world. It is confirmed that one out of every five people in India lives in IDE endemic areas. These disorders are caused by lack of iodine in the diet, which ranges from simple goitre, mental retardation, stunted growth of cretinism. Most of these disorders are permanent yet all of them are preventable only by consuming good quality iodised salt daily.

Answers to some common questions on iodine deficiency disorders:
1. WHAT IS IODINE?
Iodine is a micro-nutrient essential to human life. Some of the most vital functions of the human body depend on a regular supply of iodine.

2. WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF IODINE?
Iodine is naturally available in the soil and water. Our normal requirement comes from crops grown on iodine-rich soil. Therefore, when the soil of any area lacks iodine, the crops grown on such areas lack iodine. Consequently, those people who live on iodine deficient land do not get the daily requirement of iodine from the diet,

3. WHY IS IODINE SO IMPORTANT?
Because it is essential for normal growth, development and functioning of both the brain and the body. More importantly, without enough iodine, a newborn’s brain and body can become permanently retarded and stunted. A pregnant woman who is deficient in iodine is likely to produce an abnormal child.

4. HOW MUCH IODINE DOES A PERSON NORMALLY NEED?
The average daily requirement of an adult is 150 micrograms. However small the quantity may be, it is yet important that the body gets this quantity daily.

5. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PERSON DOES NOT GET ENOUGH IODINE?
Iodine deficiency in the diet forms a group of abnormalities known as Iodine Deficiency Disorders. It includes goitre, mental retardation, speech and hearing defects, squint, difficulties in standing & walking normally and growth retardation. During pregnancy, it causes abortion, stillbirth or birth of mentally deficient baby.

6. WHY DOES A CHILD BECOME A CRETIN?
A baby in the mother’s womb requires regular supply of iodine for the normal growth and development of its brain and body. But when the mother is iodine deficient, the child too is deprived of this much needed nutrient. If the deficiency is severe, the growth and development of the child’s brain and body are permanently stunted and it becomes a cretin, causing inability to walk, talk or think normally.

7. WHERE DOES IODINE DEFICIENCY DISORDER OCCUR IN INDIA?
It occurs in almost all the States and Union Territories of our country. The most affected areas lie in the Sub-Himalayan belt extending from Jammu & Kashmir to the North-East including Nagaland covering an area of 2500 sq Kms.

8. WHAT IS IODISED SALT?
Iodised salt is nothing but the common salt to which a small quantity of iodine compound is added. It is used to prevent iodine deficiency. It looks, tastes and smell exactly like ordinary salt.

9. WHY IS IODINE ADDED TO SALT? 
Iodine is added to salt for the simple reason that we all use salt everyday irrespective of caste, religion or economic status in normal quantities of about 10 to 15 grams a day. If this amount is iodised we automatically get the right amount of iodine that is required everyday.

10. CAN CONSUMPTION OF IODISED SALT CURE GOITRE, CRETINISM AND OTHER IODINE DEFICIENCY DISORDERS?
No, most of the iodine deficiency disorders are permanent and incurable. However, these disorders can be easily prevented by consuming iodised salt regularly.

11. WILL CONSUMPTION OF EXCESS F HARM ME?
No our body will utilize only the required quantity of iodine and the excess (if any) will be excreted unused through the urine.

12. CAN PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN USE IODISED SALT?
Yes, pregnant women and young children requires iodine even more than others.

13. HOW CAN I KNOW IF SALT CONTAINS IODINE?
We can know the content of iodine by testing the salt with a simple salt testing-kit method.

14. DO ANIMALS NEED IODISED SALT?
Yes, iodised salt improves the health and productivity of animals and reduces the number of stillbirth and miscarriages. Also cattle that are fed with iodised salt produce milk rich in iodine

15. HOW SHOULD IODISED SALT BE STORED?
Iodised salt should be stored in an air tight container because prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and moisture can destroy the iodine in the salt.

16. IS THE SALE OF NON-IODISED SALT BANNED in OUR STATE?
Yes. The sale of non-iodised salt is banned under the provision of PFA Act 1954 which is still enforced in our state. Any trader found selling non-iodised salt for human consumption is liable for prosecution under provision of the said Act.

17. WHAT SHOULD THE TRADERS DO?
i) Shopkeepers should stock and sell only iodised salt.
ii) They should ensure proper storage of iodised salt away from direct sunlight and rain.
iii) They should label the salt meant for farm or animal use as “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION”

18. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT IODINE DEFICIENCY DISORDERS?
YOU CAN:
i) Disseminate the information on Iodine Deficiency Disorders, its consequences, control & preventive measures.
ii) Purchase & consume iodised salt only.
iii) Store iodised salt in closed containers.
iv) Keep the iodised salt in a proper place and not near or above the fireplace.
v) Check & store iodised salt for not more than six months.

AN APPEAL
It is all about a very minute nutrient called “Iodine” which is essential for manufacturing two vital hormones in our body namely thyroxin and tri-iodothyronin that are responsible for maintaining normal growth and development of both brain and body.

Our body requires a daily supply of 150 micrograms of iodine which is to be obtained from the food we consumed. But the fact that we live in the sub-Himalayan region, which is declared as iodine deficient zone and also the hilly topography, heavy rainfall, frequent flooding, traditional practice of jhum cultivation and burning of forest etc, have all contributed to loss of iodine from the soil mass, rendering the food crops grown on our soil with less iodine or no iodine content.

The consequence of iodine deficiency in the diet are exceedingly grievous which includes mental retardation, stunted growth, lowering of IQ level, poor school performance, speech and hearing defect, difficulty in standing and walking, abortion, birth of dead babies and goiter (swelling in the neck).

The only effective control and preventive measure to combat this menace consists of sustained supply, proper storage and consumption of good quality iodised salt.

Therefore it is appealed to all concerned:
i) To store iodised salt in well ventilated room (Attn, stockiest).
ii) To keep iodised salt in frames at least 1 ft. above the floor with sufficient space between the rows and away from the wall (stockiest).
iii) To label non-iodised salt as ‘NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION’ (Attn. Traders).
iv) To keep iodised salt in the kitchen shelf in closed container.
v) Not to keep iodised salt near or above the fire place.
vi) Not to store iodised salt for a long time.
vii) Not to purchase iodised salt in bulks.
viii) To report to the Local Health Authority if non-iodised salt was found sold by the traders for human consumption for it is banned under PFA Act, and
ix) While cooking to put iodised salt towards the end of cooking.

You may not be a victim of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) but remember you are responsible to carry the information to all 1.5 billion people in the World and over 200 million people in our country who are at risk of getting IDD’s.

“Iodine is important for your children’s mental health”.

Source: Directorate of Health and Family Welfare
Nagaland: Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Oct 21, 2016 12:07:51 am