doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.118 Published online 30 August 2013
New research in the of Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district, which is goiter-endemic for the last 60 years, has shown that the population is in a transition phase from iodine deficient to iodine-sufficient nutriture . The survey-based study provides important public health data for iodine intervention programmes not just for Kangra but also for hundreds of other goiter-endemic districts of India.
Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable mental deficiency. It results in goiter and a spectrum of other health consequences like stillbirth, mental retardation, deaf mutism, squint, dwarfism and neuromotor defects. Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) are also a major public health problem for India with 263 out of 457 districts found endemic till date. About 113 districts of the country have not yet been surveyed.
Earlier surveys conducted among school-age children in Kangra showed that the prevalence of goiter had gone up from 12.1% in 2000 to 19.8% in 2007. Studies conducted in the years 1997, 2000, 2005 and 2007 reported that 23.0, 6.6, 12.4 and 12.7% of the families were consuming salt with <15 ppm of iodine, respectively. The researchers surveyed Kangra again in July 2012 to find that only 17.7% of families were consuming salt with iodine content of <15 ppm, which is below the stipulated level.
They report that Kangra is "possibly in a transition phase from iodine deficient to iodine-sufficient nutriture". The researchers urge public health administrators to maintain sustained efforts to ensure supply of iodized salt with adequate iodine content to eliminate iodine deficiency from Kangra.