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The main objective was to assess iodine status (thyroid volume (Tvol) and urinary iodine concentration (UIC)) and their determinants in Saharawi refugee women.
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.
The survey was undertaken in four long-term refugee camps in the Algerian desert.
Non-pregnant women (n 394), 15–45 years old, randomly selected.
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.
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.
To assess the prevalence of enlarged thyroid volume (Tvol) in Saharawi refugee children, and their urinary iodine concentration (UIC), and to identify possible sources of excess iodine intake.
A cross-sectional survey was performed during January–February 2007. Tvol was measured by ultrasound and iodine concentration was analysed in casual urine samples, in household drinking water and in milk samples from household livestock.
The study was undertaken in four refugee camps in the Algerian desert.
The subjects were 421 Saharawi children, 6–14 years old.
Enlarged Tvol was found in 56 % (Tvol-for-age) and 86 % (Tvol-for-body-surface-area) of the children. The median (25th percentile–75th percentile, P25–P75) UIC was 565 (357–887) μg/l. The median (P25–P75) iodine concentration in household drinking water was 108 (77–297) μg/l. None of the children had UIC below 100 μg/l, 16 % had UIC between 100 and 299 μg/l, and 84 % had UIC above 300 μg/l. There was a positive association between Tvol and whether the household possessed livestock.
The children are suffering from endemic goitre and high UIC caused probably by an excessive intake of iodine. The excessive iodine intakes probably originate from drinking water and milk.
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