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Articles

Biochemical hypothyroidism secondary to iodine deficiency is associated with poor school achievement and cognition in Bangladeshi children.

Author

Huda SN, Grantham-McGregor SM, Rahman KM

Date

5/1999

Journal

J Nutr

Abstract

Iodine deficiency in pregnancy leads to poor cognitive function in the offspring; however, the effect of concurrent iodine deficiency on school-aged children is not clear. Several studies have shown that school children in iodine-deficient villages have poorer cognitive function than children in iodine-sufficient villages. However, villages differ in many factors that may also detrimentally affect children's development. In addition, the children's nutritional and health status has not usually been taken into account. In this study, we compared the cognitive function and school achievement levels of 170 children who had recently had low thyroxine (T4) levels [T4 /=70 nmol/L (euthyroid)]. The children were matched for school and grade level and came from the same iodine-deficient regions in rural Bangladesh. They were given a battery of cognitive, motor and school achievement tests. We also measured their nutritional status, examined their stools for geohelminths and assessed their home environments. A factor analysis of cognitive and motor function tests yielded two factors, a general cognitive factor and a fine motor factor. The children's height and arm circumference, experience of hunger, parental characteristics and stimulation in the home made independent contributions to their test scores. Controlling for these variables, the hypothyroid children performed worse than the euthyroid children on reading and spelling and the general cognitive factor. These findings indicate that a large number of disadvantages including hypothyroidism are related to the poor development of these children.