Four hundred million people or more may be exposed to iodine deficiency worldwide, in developing countries in particular. Because of the pratical problems with existing methods for the large-scale prevention of iodine deficiency, the authors developed a new approach to collective prophylaxis.
This approach relies on the controlled diffusion of iodine into water from a silicone elastomer. Silicone matrices intalled in a bore well released iodine at a rate sufficient to permit the daily per capita intake of at least 100µg of iodine, the amount recommended by the World Health Organization. The matrices were tested over 1 year in a village in Mali, West Africa, an area in which goiter was highly endemic. The effects on the well water and population were compared with those of a lacebo system in a control village.
Results. An increase in urinary iodine levels was observed in the treated population, and after 12 months the incidence of goiter had fallen 53.2% to 29.2%.
This new concept, adaptable to all sources of water supply, may contribute to the eradication of iodine deficiency.
(Am J Public Health. 1993 ;83:540-545)