Endemic Goiter and Iodine Prophylaxis in Calabria, a Region of Southern Italy: Past and Present

Nutrients. 2019 Oct 11;11(10):2428. doi: 10.3390/nu11102428.


Iodine, a micronutrient that plays a pivotal role in thyroid hormone synthesis, is essential for proper health at all life stages. Indeed, an insufficient iodine intake may determine a thyroid dysfunction also with goiter, or it may be associated to clinical features such as stunted growth and mental retardation, referred as iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs). Iodine deficiency still remains an important public health problem in many countries, including Italy. The effective strategy for the prevention and control of IDDs is universal salt iodization, which was implemented in Italy in 2005 as a nationwide program adopted after the approval of an Italian law. Despite an improvement in the iodine intake, many regions in Italy are still characterized by mild iodine deficiency. In this review, we provide an overview of the historical evolution of the iodine status in the Calabria region, located in the South of Italy, during the past three decades. In particular, we have retraced an itinerary from the first epidemiological surveys at the end of the 1980s to the establishment of the Regional Observatory of Endemic Goiter and Iodine Prophylaxis, which represents an efficient model for the surveillance of IDDs and monitoring the efficacy of iodine prophylaxis.

Keywords: goiter; iodine deficiency; iodine prophylaxis; urinary iodine concentration.

MeSH terms

  • Goiter, Endemic / epidemiology*
  • Goiter, Endemic / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Iodine / administration & dosage*
  • Iodine / pharmacology*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • iodized salt
  • Iodine