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Food Nutr Bull. 2007 Dec;28(4):391-8.

Prevalence of goiter in children 6 to 12 years of age in Ethiopia.

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Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.



Iodine-deficiency disorders are a major public health problem in Ethiopia. In conjunction with implementing control programs, baseline information needs to be established.


To investigate the distribution and degree of severity of iodine-deficiency disorders in terms of goiter prevalence, urinary iodine excretion (UIE) levels, and proportion of households with iodated salt in Ethiopia.


A nationwide, community-based, cross-sectional study was conducted from February to May 2005 among 10,965 children aged 6 to 12 years. A multistage, proportional-to-population-size sampling method was used. Goiters were classified by the method recommended by the World Health Organization/UNICEF/International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (WHO/UNICEF/ICCIDD), in which the thyroid gland is graded as 0 (normal), 1 (palpable goiter), or 2 (visible goiter); urinary iodine was determined by the wet digestion method; and salt samples were analyzed by a rapid test kit.


The national total goiter weighted prevalence rate among children aged 6 to 12 years was 39.9% (95% confidence interval, 38.6% to 41.2%), representing more than 4 million children. The median UIE was 2.45 microg/ dL; 45.8% of children had UIE values of 2 microg/dL or less, and 22.8% had UIE values of 2.01 to 5.0 pg/dL. Only 4.2% of the households had iodated salt.


According to the WHO/UNICEF/ ICCIDD classification, both goiter prevalence and UIE levels indicate that the whole country appears to be severely affected by iodine deficiency. Furthermore, the virtual absence of iodated salt in the households shows that currently there is no salt iodization program in the country. Dietary sources of iodine in Ethiopia are not dependable, and hence a sustainable universal salt iodization program needs to be implemented without delay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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