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Ministry of Health prepares to launch Iodine deficiency survey

Posted: Monday, May 7, 2018. 4:00 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The Ministry of Health held a workshop today at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, as a prelude to the Caribbean Region Urinary Iodine and Sodium Study 2018, which is being launched tomorrow.

Teachers, parents, and representatives from the ministry listened to presentations from the Iodine Global Network on the importance Iodine plays in the healthy development of children, as well as the importance of Belize participating in the regional study which features a total of nine countries.

Dr. Natalia Beer, maternal and child health advisor to the MOH, explained that the survey will consist of visiting four schools, two in Belize City, one in Dangriga and another in Corozal, where nurses will collect urine samples from hundreds of students between the ages of six and 12 years old.

Students ages nine to 12 will also answer an additional questionnaire, which has a list of foods that are sources of iodine. Beer said that the study is important because Belize has only had a limited amount of data collected on iodine intake via the Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey done in 2015. She noted that the current survey, which is financed primarily by the Iodine Global Network, will establish a baseline for future surveys in Belize.

“The body does not produce iodine naturally, so we have to get it from external sources such as certain foods and table salts,” Beer said. “It plays an important role in brain development, so if children aren’t getting enough we could have a situation where they are having difficulty learning.”

She noted that the MOH in collaboration with the Ministry of Education issued consent forms to parents who wished to have their children to participate in the survey.

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