Iodine deficiency during infancy and early childhood in Belgium: does it pose a risk to brain development?

Eur J Pediatr. 2001 Apr;160(4):251-4. doi: 10.1007/s004310000707.


Iodine deficiency is well documented in Belgium in adults including pregnant women, adolescents, schoolchildren, and neonates, but no data are available in the age group 6 months-3 years. We investigated the status of iodine nutrition in 111 healthy subjects in this age group in an attempt to evaluate the risk of brain damage due to iodine deficiency in Belgium. In 244 causal urine samples collected in these subjects, the median concentration of iodine was 101 micrograms/l vs 180-220 micrograms/l under normal conditions. The daily supplementation of the subjects with a physiological dose of 90 micrograms iodine was followed by a slow and progressive increase of urinary iodine, which reached a normal level only after a delay of about 30 weeks of therapy. This observation suggests that part of the supplement of iodine offered to the children was stored in their thyroid glands until the iodine content of the gland had reverted to normal, reflecting the state of hyperavidity of the thyroid for iodide characteristic of iodine deficiency. In conclusion, infants and young children in Belgium are as iodine deficient as all other age groups of the population and, consequently, are at risk of brain damage. This works further illustrates the need for systematic iodine supplementation of the population in Belgium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / etiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Deficiency Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Iodine / urine
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Iodine