Iodine deficiency in Europe

Cas Lek Cesk. 1995 Jan 18;134(2):35-43.


Iodine is a trace element present in the human body in minute amounts (15-20 mg in adults, i.e. 0.0285 x 10(-3)% of body weight). The only confirmed function of iodine is to constitute an essential substrate for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, tetraiodothyronine, thyroxine or T4 and triiodothyronine, T3 (1). In thyroxine, iodine is 60% by weight. Thyroid hormones, in turn, play a decisive role in the metabolism of all cells of the organism (2) and in the process of early growth and development of most organs, especially of the brain (3). Brain development in humans occurs from fetal life up to the third postnatal year (4). Consequently, a deficit in iodine and/or in thyroid hormones occurring during this critical period of life will result not only in the slowing down of the metabolic activities of all the cells of the organism but also in irreversible alterations in the development of the brain. The clinical consequence will be mental retardation (5). When the physiological requirements of iodine are not met in a given population, a series of functional and developmental abnormalities occur (Table 1), including thyroid function abnormalities and, when iodine deficiency is severe, endemic goiter and cretinism, endemic mental retardation, decreased fertility rate, increased perinatal death, and infant mortality. These complications, which constitute an hindrance to the development of the affected population, are grouped under the general heading of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, IDD (6). Broad geographic areas exist in which the population is affected by IDD.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Iodine / deficiency*


  • Iodine