Currently Europe has no harmonised approach to ensure iodine intake of European citizens is sufficient to prevent health problems. EUthyroid is an EU-funded research project to evaluate current national efforts aimed at preventing iodine deficiency disorders. We aim to provide evidence for a cost effective harmonised approach to iodine prevention in Europe.
Iodine deficiency is the world’s leading cause of preventable brain damage and for years the World Health Organization has warned that Europeans are increasingly affected by the consequences of iodine deficiency. In fact, iodine deficiency is the most important risk factor for thyroid disease in adults and children. While goitre as a result of iodine deficiency is widely known, it is less acknowledged that thyroid hormones regulate the development of important organs. Therefore, it is advised that pregnant and nursing women should ensure sufficient iodine intake for optimal development of the child. Even a slight iodine deficiency during pregnancy can lead to impaired brain development and thus affect intelligence.
EUthyroid is the first pan-European initiative to take on the challenge of investigating the iodine intake of the European population. This should provide the basis to develop appropriate measures for harmonising and improving the iodine intake in Europe in cooperation with national authorities.
22 Member States of the EU, corresponding to 94% of the Union’s population, and five additional countries (Iceland, Israel, Macedonia, Norway and Switzerland) participate in EUthyroid.