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Health Ministry Warns of Iodine Deficiency in Part of China

China's Ministry of Health (MOH) warned on Thursday of possible iodine deficiency in western, southern and eastern parts of the country as their iodized salt intake level was much lower than the national level.

A survey by the MOH and the National Development and Reform Commission showed 94.3 percent of Chinese used iodized salt in 2007, up 0.5 percent from the previous year.

However, the country's campaign to fortify salt with iodine has not been fully implemented in some areas.

The iodized salt intake rate was below 90 percent in Tibet, Hainan, Xinjiang, Guangdong, Qinghai, and Shanghai.

People with iodine deficiencies are prone to suffering goitre, a swelling of the neck resulting from enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can also lead to learning disabilities.

Iodine deficiencies can also cause miscarriages of pregnant women.

The survey has covered 2,737 counties nationwide, according to the MOH.

The authorities said they would strengthen efforts on more accurate and timely monitoring to provide reference for prevention of iodine deficiency and minimize its harm to the public.

The Chinese government started an iodized salt program in 1995 and it aimed to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs) by 2010.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2008)

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