Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

Publication Date




Iodine is a trace element required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. The multiple effects of iodine deficiency on human health are called iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs). IDDs have been common nutritional problems in Ethiopia. In 2012, Ethiopia launched a national salt iodization program to address IDDs. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of this program after 5 years by measuring urinary iodine concentration (UIC) and prevalence of goiter in school age children as well as household salt iodine concentration (SIC).


A school-based cross-sectional design was employed. After ethical approval, 408 children from eight randomly selected primary schools provided urine samples. UIC was analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrophotometry (ICP-MS). A 10 g salt sample was collected from each household of a sampled child. SIC was analyzed with a digital electronic iodine checker (WYD, UNICEF) and goiter was assessed by palpation.


The mean (±SD) age of the children was 9 ± 2 years. The prevalence of goiter was 4.2% and no child had grade 2 goiter. The median (IQR) UIC was 518 (327, 704) μg/L and UIC ranged from 3.1 to 2530 μg/L. Of the salt samples, 15.6% were not adequately iodized (< 15 ppm), 39.3% were adequately iodized (≥15 to ≤40 ppm), and 45.1% were > 40 ppm. SIC ranged from 4.2 to 195 ppm. Of the mothers, 92% said iodized salt prevents goiter and 8% mentioned prevents mental retardation.


In 2017 iodine deficiency was no longer a public health problem in the study area. However, the high variability in UIC and SIC and excessive iodine intake are of great concern. It is vital to ensure that salt is homogenously iodized at the production site before being distributed to consumers.


This article was originally published Open Access in BMC Public Health. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


BMC Public Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© The Author(s). 2021