The Belize government Monday announced plans to conduct a survey to measure the levels of iodine in children in the country.
It said that the “Caribbean Region Urinary Iodine and Sodium Study 2018,” is being undertaken in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Iodine Global Network.
Belize is one of the nine Caribbean countries participating in the project and the survey will include approximately 400 children, ages six to12 years, from four primary schools in the Belize, Stann Creek, and Corozal districts.
“Children’s height, weight, and head circumference will be measured and bodily fluid samples will be taken for laboratory test analysis,” the government said in a statement.
It said that officials from both the Ministries of Health and Education are in communication with the selected schools, teachers, and parents on the details of the survey, including how this information will assist in future health initiatives.
The study will be conducted from May 7-17 and headed by lead investigator, Professor Michael B. Zimermann, MD of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland.
Iodine is an essential mineral provided through the consumption of food. It is necessary for the functioning of the thyroid gland and brain development and is also essential during pregnancy and infancy.
However, a deficiency in iodine can lead to mental disabilities, goiter -enlarged thyroid gland- and slow metabolism.