NEW DELHI : A pinch of Iodized salt can help save a million lives in India, but sheer lack of awareness has made iodine deficiency rampant, with around 22% of the newborns and infants being affected by physical and mental retardation due to this deficiency, health experts say.
“Iodine Man of India” and former professor of AIIMS, Delhi, Dr. Chandrakant S Pandav, says: “If a pregnant mother fails to include an adequate amount of iodine in her diet, the child is put at a grave risk of stillbirth, congenital abnormalities, stunted growth and, most commonly, poor IQ. Iodine helps in the growth and development of the brain from conception to seven years of age.”
Dr Pandav was speaking at a symposium on Universal Salt Iodisation in India, organized by the Iodine Global Network, in New Delhi on March 14, 2019.
Dr Pandav clarified, “Suboptimal intake of iodine causes inadequate thyroid hormone production, which leads to a spectrum of adverse outcomes, collectively termed Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDDs).”
He informed, “The most popular method of tackling the problem has been to encourage the consumption of iodized salt, which reaches about 92% of Indian households.”
As per several studies, around 350 million people remain at risk of iodine deficiency disorders that can lead to goiter, hypothyroidism and even brain damage. Iodine is an essential micro-nutrient required for normal thyroid function, growth, and development.
In 2015, 92% of households in India consumed iodised salt as per National Iodine and Salt Intake Survey (NISI 2014-15). Goitre has virtually disappeared around the country. Over a two million IQ points are being saved every year in India. The efforts of Dr. Pandav, along with global scientists, have led to similar results saving 1.5 billion IQ points every year.
India was one of the first countries globally to start a national IDD control program. The dynamic evolution of IDD control program and the efforts for its sustainable elimination in India has been a success story.