Endemic goiter is an important public health problem in Turkey. Legislation for mandatory iodization of household salt was passed in July 1999. The current study aimed to ascertain goiter prevalence and iodine nutrition in school age children (SAC) living in known endemic areas of Turkey. Sonographic thyroid volumes (STV) and urinary iodine concentrations (UIC) of 5948 SAC from 20 cities were measured between 1997-1999. STV of 31.8% of the SAC examined remained above the upper normal limits for the same age and gender recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). Goiter prevalence ranged between 5 and 56% and median UIC ranged between 14 and 78 µg/l., indicating severe to moderate iodine deficiency (İD) in fourteen and mild İD in six of the cities surveyed. None of the cities was found lo have sufficient median UIC levels. The current study showed that endemic goiter is an important public health problem and iodine nutrition is inadequate nationwide. it also provides reliable scientific evidence and shows the necessity of a controlled and effective iodine supplementation program nationwide. Mandatory iodization of household salt seems to be the essential measure taken for the moment but additional measures may be needed in the near future.
Keywords: Endemic goiter, iodine deficiency cytoplasmic autoantibody