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Iodine deficiency in primary school children and knowledge of iodine deficiency and iodized salt among caretakers in Hawassa Town: Southern Ethiopia

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Background: More than two billion individuals worldwide have inadequate iodine intake and the adverse consequences of iodine deficiency are widely observed. Objective: To assess the iodine status of primary school children and the knowledge of iodine deficiency disorders among their caretakers. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Hawassa Town, Southern Ethiopia. The study participants were school children (n=116) aged 7-9 years. A two-stage sampling method was used to select participants. Goiter and urinary iodine concentration were measured in the children to evaluate their iodine status. Socioeconomic characteristics, dietary patterns and caretaker knowledge of iodine deficiency were assessed by using questionnaires. Household salt iodine concentration was also measured. Results: Total goiter rate was 13.6% and was significantly associated with age [AOR=13.4 (3.2-55.7)]. Eighty two percent of the children had urinary iodine concentration below 50 ìg/L, indicating the presence of moderate iodine deficiency. None of the households were using adequately iodized salt. More than half of the respondents did not know about the importance of iodized salt. Conclusion: The observed degree of iodine deficiency in children and the limited knowledge about iodine in an urban area such as Hawassa stress the urgent need for implementing interventions to combat iodine deficiency. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2012;26(1):30-35]

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