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Iodine-induced goitre and high prevalence of anaemia among Saharawi refugee women

  • Sigrun Henjum (a1), Ingrid Barikmo (a1), Tor A Strand (a2) (a3), Arne Oshaug (a1) and Liv Elin Torheim (a4)...

Abstract

Objective

The main objective was to assess iodine status (thyroid volume (Tvol) and urinary iodine concentration (UIC)) and their determinants in Saharawi refugee women.

Design

A cross-sectional survey was performed during January–February 2007. Tvol was measured by ultrasound and iodine concentration was analysed in spot urine samples and in household drinking water. Anthropometry and Hb concentration were measured and background variables were collected using pre-coded questionnaires.

Setting

The survey was undertaken in four long-term refugee camps in the Algerian desert.

Subjects

Non-pregnant women (n 394), 15–45 years old, randomly selected.

Results

Median (25th percentile–75th percentile (P25–P75)) UIC was 466 (294–725) μg/l. Seventy-four per cent had UIC above 300 μg/l and 46 % above 500 μg/l. Median (P25–P75) Tvol was 9·4 (7·4–12·0) ml and the goitre prevalence was 22 %. UIC was positively associated with iodine in drinking water and negatively associated with breast-feeding, and these two variables explained 28 % of the variation in UIC. The mean (sd) Hb level was 11·8 (2·4) g/dl. In total 46 % were anaemic with 14 %, 25 % and 7 %, classified with respectively mild, moderate and severe anaemia.

Conclusions

The Saharawi women had high UIC, high levels of iodine in drinking water and increased Tvol and probably suffered from iodine-induced goitre. The high prevalence of anaemia is considered to be a severe public health concern. To what extent the excessive iodine intake and the anaemia have affected thyroid function is unknown and should be addressed in future studies.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email sigrun.henjum@hiak.no

References

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Keywords

Iodine-induced goitre and high prevalence of anaemia among Saharawi refugee women

  • Sigrun Henjum (a1), Ingrid Barikmo (a1), Tor A Strand (a2) (a3), Arne Oshaug (a1) and Liv Elin Torheim (a4)...

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