Thyroid volume and urinary iodine in European schoolchildren: standardization of values for assessment of iodine deficiency

F. Delange, G. Benker, P. Caron, O. Eber, W. Ott, F. Peter, J. Podoba, M. Simescu, Z. Szybinsky, F. Vertongen, P. Vitti, W. Wiersinga, V. Zamrazil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Up to 1992, most European countries used to be moderately to severely iodine deficient. The present study aimed at evaluating possible changes in the status of iodine nutrition in 12 European countries during the past few years. Thyroid volume was measured by ultrasonography in 7599 schoolchildren aged 7-15 years in one to fifteen sites in The Netherlands. Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary and Romania. The concentrations of urinary iodine were measured in 5709 of them. A mobile unit (ThyroMobil van) equipped with a sonographic device and facilities for the collection of urine samples visited all sites in the 12 countries. All ultrasounds and all urinary iodine assays were performed by the same investigators. The status of iodine nutrition in schoolchildren has markedly improved in many European countries and is presently normal in The Netherlands, France and Slovakia. It remains unchanged in other countries such as Belgium. There is an inverse relationship between urinary iodine and thyroid volume in schoolchildren in Europe. Goiter occurs as soon as the urinary iodine is below a critical threshold of 10 micrograms/dl. Its prevalence is up to 10 to 40% in some remote European areas. This work produced updated recommendations for the normal volume of the thyroid measured by ultrasonography as a function of age, sex and body surface area in iodine-replete schoolchildren in Europe. This study proposes a method for a standardized evaluation of iodine nutrition on a continental basis, which could be used in other continents
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-187
JournalEuropean journal of endocrinology / European Federation of Endocrine Societies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Cite this