An epidemiological survey on the prevalence of goitre among school children in Northwestern Greece
Johnson, Elizabeth O.
Soucacos, Panayotis N.
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Previous epidemiological surveys have shown that goitre due to iodine deficiency has been endemic in Northwestern Greece. Since then, iodised salt has been introduced but the iodination of the salt is not enforced by Greek law. The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence of goitre among school children of Northwestern Greece, in order to estimate the extent of the problem today. A total of 3,916 school children (2005 boys and 1911 girls) aged 12-15 years were examined at their schools. From the group of children, 2,378 were residents of the town of Ioannina, 705 were living in the surrounding villages and the remaining 833 children were living in the mountainous villages of the area. Thyroid size estimated by palpation was scored according to the WHO criteria. Overall, a prevalence of goitre (stage 1 and 2) of 21.0% (25.7% in girls and 16.4% in boys) was observed. The mean prevalence of goitre in the city of Ioannina was 14.6% (17.8% and 11.5% in girls and boys, respectively), in the surrounding villages 19.4% (25.1% and 13.7%), whereas in the mountainous villages it was 29.2% (34.4% and 24.0%). The prevalence of goitre was higher (p < 0.05) in children living in the mountainous villages than in those living in the town and it was more frequent among girls than boys (p < 0.05). The results indicate that low grade goitre in endemic proportions is still prevalent among schoolchildren in Northwestern Greece, implying that iodine deficiency and/or some other goitrogenic factor(s) is the cause. Further evaluation of the problem is underway.