University Of Tasmania

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Recurrent Iodine Deficiency in Tasmania, Australia: A Salutary Lesson in Sustainable Iodine Prophylaxis and Its Monitoring

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 13:45 authored by Guttikonda, K, John BurgessJohn Burgess, Kristen HynesKristen Hynes, Boyages, S, Byth, K, Venkatesh ParameswaranVenkatesh Parameswaran
Even mild iodine deficiency during early childhood and pregnancy has the potential to impair neurological development. Often considered a problem of developing nations, a number of industrialized countries are at risk of deficiency. Despite past success with intentional and unintentional iodine fortification, recurrence of deficiency is an ever-present risk. Tasmania, an island state of the Commonwealth of Australia, has a history of endemic iodine deficiency, which was successfully eliminated by iodine prophylaxis initiated in 1950. In this report we describe a formal assessment of iodine nutrition in the Tasmanian population, 50 yr after initiation of the prophylaxis program. The requirements and obstacles to achieving sustainable iodine prophylaxis in an otherwise affluent community are considered. A cross-sectional study was undertaken during the yr 2000. Urinary iodine excretion (UIE) and thyroid ultrasonography were assessed in a representative statewide sample of school-age children. Children (n = 225) aged 4 to 17 yr from throughout Tasmania were studied. The sample comprised 99 girls and 126 boys. The median UIE was 84 μg/liter (87 μg/liter for males and 81 μg/liter for females), with UIE 50 μg/liter or less in 20%. Based on age-specific World Health Organization/International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders normative data for thyroid volume, the prevalence of elevated thyroid volume was 5.3% for boys and 3.5% for girls. However, after correcting the World Health Organization/International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders reference data, the prevalence increased to 24.6% for boys and 20.7% for girls. No significant difference in the thyroid volumes was found between males and females in this study. These data confirm the recurrence of mild iodine deficiency in Tasmania. The failure of sustained iodine prophylaxis highlights the universal importance of persistent surveillance, use of sustainable measures, public awareness, and a specific legislative framework for managing ongoing iodine prophylaxis. Our findings also emphasize the importance of accurate reference data for assessment thyroid volume.


Publication title

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism










Tasmanian School of Medicine


Endocrine Society

Place of publication

Bethesda, USA

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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