HANOI, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Iodine deficiency, which can causes mental retardation, has come back to Vietnam, especially in mountain communities, the country's National Hospital of Endocrinology said on Saturday.
According to the hospital's latest survey, some 60 percent of Vietnamese households use sufficient amounts of iodine, and the rate of children aged 8-10 having goiter are 9.8 percent.
In the 2005-2006 period, 93 percent of families used sufficient amounts of iodine, mostly in the form of iodized salt, and few people suffered goiter.
A key reason for the iodine deficiency comeback is that Vietnam's iodized salt mandate was repealed in 2006 and program administration budgets were slashed by 90 percent, said the Iodine Global Network, a non-profit organization for the sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency worldwide.
After a 1993 survey found Vietnamese schoolchildren consumed only 32 micrograms of iodine daily, a third of the recommended level, Vietnam mandated all food salt be iodized. The iodine deficiency disorder problem was under control by 1995.
Some foreign experts have recently advised the Vietnamese government to make salt iodization mandatory once again or at least promote the production and use of iodized salt, cooking powder and fish source.
According to the World Health Organization, iodine deficiency disorders jeopardize children's mental health and often their very survival, while serious iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism, a grave, irreversible form of mental retardation that affects people living in iodine-deficient areas of Africa and Asia.