Objective: To investigate iodine status and fish consumption of schoolchildren living in the Red Sea and White Nile regions of Sudan.
Design: Cross-sectional study to determine urinary iodine concentration, visible goitre rate, iodine content of salt and fish consumption.
Setting: Port Sudan (Red Sea) and Jabal Awliya (White Nile), Sudan.
Subjects: Two hundred eighty (n 280) children aged 6-12 years (142 boys, 138 girls).
Results: The median urinary iodine concentration in children from Port Sudan and Jabal Awliya was 553 and 160 μg/l, respectively. Goitre was detected in 17.1 % of children from Port Sudan but only in 1.4 % from Jabal Awliya, The salt samples from Port Sudan contained 150-360 mg iodine (KOI3)/kg salt, whereas those from Jabal Awliya had levels below the detection limit. Despite consuming salt devoid of iodine, children from Jabal Awliya had optimal iodine status. It is plausible that consumption of Nile fish from Jabal Awliya Reservoir, which is a good source of iodine and favoured by the locals, might have provided sufficient iodine. In contrast, children from Port Sudan were at higher risk of iodine-induced hyperthyroidism resulting from consumption of excessively iodised salt.
Conclusions: The findings of the study clearly demonstrated that (i) Sudan still has a problem with iodine nutrition and quality control and monitoring of salt iodisation and (ii) including fish in the diet could provide a sufficient amount of iodine for schoolchildren.