Pires, A.M., Félix, S. & Sousa, A.C.C. (2017) Assessment of iodine importance and needs for supplementation in school-aged children in Portugal. BMC Nutrition, 3, 64. DOI:10.1186/s40795-017-0175-x.
Micronutrients are essential for child proper growth and development. Nutritional deficiencies of these elements have increasingly been a concern in Europe, as they are often related to the cognitive potential and physical lifelong consequences. However, being an essential trace element for thyroid function, iodine intake in the desired quantities becomes also very important for neurodevelopment, including for school-aged children. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to highlight the need for wider dissemination of the physiological importance of iodine among health professionals and the general population as well as the knowledge of iodine needs and possible supplementation within families with school-aged children.
The present study is an observational, descriptive, cross-sectional evaluation of knowledge and perceptions of iodine physiological importance. An evaluation survey has been carried out based on knowledge of iodine needs and possible supplementation within families with school-aged children. It has been target at mothers with school-age children under 18 years old with residence in Portugal. Data are represented as frequency and percentages and association between variables was measured.
The internet survey has been answered by around 691 mothers, corresponding to 811 children data validated; 47% (n = 381) girls and 53% (n = 430) boys. Mother’s knowledge about iodine and the importance for the improvement of learning capacity is not independent of having health study/work area (χ2 at the 0.05 level). Nevertheless, it can be observed a slight association between mothers who agree with iodine supplementation and those who effectively supplement their child (χ2 9.315; Φ 0.116). Although use of iodized kitchen salt certainly changes the balance from sub-optimal to adequate iodine nutrition, only 8.8% (n = 61) reported using iodized salt. However, 87.6% (n = 605) assumed salt iodization importance without information.
We believe that the findings of this survey have great public health importance for Portugal. While many countries have mandatory iodizes salt programmes, in Portugal iodine supplementation is not a current practice. Therefore, we suggest an urgent evaluation of iodine in Portugal, namely for school-aged children, where iodine deficiencies are critical, as well as a systematic information dissemination as a form of publicizing iodine supplementation needs.