What Are The Effects Of Iodine Deficiency?

Iodine deficiency diseases can be devastating, leading to such health problems as mental retardation, goiter, and miscarriages. These diseases, however, are easily preventable through the use of iodine supplementation.

For centuries, scientists and others in the medical field have conjectured that a deficiency in iodine is responsible for countless numbers of premature deaths, related diseases, and abnormal development in humans. While today the vital role that iodine plays in the proper health, maintenance, and development of humans is better understood, millions of lives around the world continue to be adversely affected each year due to a deficiency in the mineral. In fact, medical experts across the globe agree that a deficiency in iodine is the most preventable form of brain damage and mental impairment in humans.

Although a campaign to introduce iodine into ordinary table salt and vegetable oil has been largely successful in helping to decrease the number of health related conditions linked to iodine deficiencies, there is still much more work that needs to be done. Recognition of symptoms and conditions related to iodine deficiencies must be addressed to the global audience in order to ensure that every man, woman, and child understands the importance of including iodine in their daily diet.

It is especially important that pregnant women consume an adequate intake of iodine. The inadequate consumption of iodine during pregnancy is known to cause miscarriages and other serious maladies in the developing fetus such as cretinism. Cretinism is a serious congenital abnormality that results in irreversible mental retardation, physical retardation, short stature, and sometimes deafness. Sadly, there is no cure or treatment for cretinism. The only way to control the incidence and symptoms of this serious birth defect is to prevent its occurrence.

It is also critical that newborns and infants receive adequate amounts of iodine in their diets. Iodine deficiency in very young infants results in both an increased mortality rate and abnormal brain development that presents many mental and physical challenges for the child throughout the course of his or her life. If the deficiency is corrected promptly, then the abnormal development in the child can possibly be minimized and its harmful effects on the developing brain halted. However, if the deficiency is not given prompt attention, then serious developmental problems will continue to occur, not only threatening the young child's life, but also their mental and physical well being.

The most visible effects of iodine deficiency can be seen in school age children and adolescents. The presence of a goiter physically defines an iodine deficiency in older children, but other subtle and less recognized symptoms exist as well. For the most part, iodine deficiency in children and adolescents is linked to overall poor school performance. The child generally has trouble concentrating, focusing, and grasping age appropriate materials. In addition, the child may possess speech or motor problems indicative of abnormal physical development. When administered an IQ test, the iodine deficient child typically scores on the lower end of the intelligence spectrum, suggestive of abnormal brain development. Finally, children who consume inadequate amounts of iodine are also at an increased risk for suffering from learning disabilities, the tragic result of developmental abnormalities caused by the deficiency.

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