The remarkable success of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) elimination in China has been achieved through a mandatory universal salt iodization (USI) program. The study aims to estimate the relationship between urinary iodine concentration (UIC) and iodine content in edible salt to assess the current iodine nutritional status of school aged children.
A total of 5565 students from 26 of 39 districts/counties in Chongqing participated in the study, UIC and iodine content in table salt were measured. Thyroid volumes of 3311 students were examined by ultrasound and goiter prevalence was calculated.
The overall median UIC of students was 222 μg/L (IQR: 150-313 μg/L). Median UIC was significantly different among groups with non-iodized salt (iodine content <5 mg/kg), inadequately iodized salt (between 5 and 21 mg/kg), adequately iodized (between 21 and 39 mg/kg) and excessively iodized (>39 mg/kg) salt (P < 0.01). The total goiter rate was 1.9% (60/3111) and 6.0% (186/3111) according to Chinese national and WHO reference values, respectively. Thyroid volume and goiter prevalence were not different within the three iodine nutritional status groups (insufficient, adequate and excessive, P > 0.05).
The efficient implementation of current USI program is able to reduce the goiter prevalence in Chongqing as a low incidence of goiter in school aged children is observed in this study. The widened UIC range of 100–299 μg/L indicating sufficient iodine intake is considered safe with a slim chance of causing goiter or thyroid dysfunction. Further researches were needed to evaluate the applicability of WHO reference in goiter diagnose in Chongqing or identifying more accurate criteria of normal thyroid volume of local students in the future.