The Iodine Deficiency Disorders in India: Basics Explained

The central government on Tuesday informed Rajya Sabha that no state in the country is absolutely free from the Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) problem.

Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Andhra Pradesh have emerged as outliers, having the lowest consumption of iodized salt in the country, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

As per National Family Health Survey – 5 (2019-21), the prevalence of Goitre and any other thyroid disorders, based on self-reports in the women (15-49 years) was found to be 3 percent which is the national average though vary across states.

The government is implementing National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (NIDDCP) in the country. The goals under the programme are to bring the prevalence of IDD to below 5 percent in the country and to ensure 100 percent consumption of adequately iodated salt (15ppm) at the household level. In 2005, universal salt iodisation was made mandatory in the country. According to doctors and health experts, iodine is a crucial micronutrient that is required daily at 100-150 micrograms for normal human growth and development.


Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. I. If you do not have enough iodine in your body, you cannot make enough thyroid hormone.

Thus, iodine deficiency can lead to enlargement of the thyroid (goiter ), hypothyroidism and to intellectual disabilities in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy.

Iodine is present naturally in soil and seawater. The availability of iodine in foods differs in various regions of the world. Individuals can maintain adequate iodine in their diet by using iodized table salt, by eating foods high in iodine, particularly dairy products, seafood, meat, some breads, and eggs, and by taking a multivitamin containing iodine.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.

All of the symptoms of iodine deficiency are related to its effect on the thyroid:

GOITER – Without adequate iodine, the thyroid progressively enlarges (develops a goiter) as it tries to keep up with demand for thyroid hormone production. Patients with a large goiter may experience symptoms of choking, especially when lying down, and difficulty swallowing and breathing.

HYPOTHYROIDISM – As the body’s iodine levels fall, hypothyroidism may develop, since iodine is essential for making thyroid hormone.

PREGNANCY-RELATED PROBLEMS – Iodine deficiency is especially important in women who are pregnant or nursing their infants. Severe iodine deficiency in the mother has been associated with miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and congenital abnormalities in their babies.

Children of mothers with severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy can have intellectual disabilities and problems with growth, hearing, and speech. In the most severe form, an underactive thyroid can result in cretinism (a syndrome characterized by permanent brain damage, deaf mutism, spasticity, and short stature), although this has become rare worldwide. Iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of intellectual disabilities in the world.


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