Iodine deficiency has multiple adverse effects on growth and development due to inadequate thyroid hormone production that are termed the iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). IDD remains the most common cause of preventable mental impairment worldwide. IDD assessment methods include urinary iodine concentration, goiter, thyroglobulin and newborn thyrotropin. In nearly all iodine-deficient countries, the best strategy to control IDD is salt iodization, one of the most cost-effective ways to contribute to economic and social development. When salt iodization is not possible, iodine supplements can be targeted to vulnerable groups. Introduction of iodized salt to regions of chronic IDD may transiently increase the incidence of thyroid disorders, and programs should include monitoring for both iodine deficiency and excess. Although more data on the epidemiology of thyroid disorders caused by differences in iodine intake are needed, overall, the relatively small risks of iodine excess are far outweighed by the substantial risks of iodine deficiency.