Endemic Goiter in Guatemala

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  • Dirección General de Sanidad Pública and Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP)


Of a total population estimated at 2,788,122 more than 39,484 persons were examined of whom 70 per cent were school children, 2 per cent pre-school children and 28 per cent adults. The overall incidence of goiter was 38.5 per cent. Only one out of 22 departments had an incidence less than 20 per cent. One department had more than 60 per cent goiter, three between 51 and 60 per cent and the 17 remaining departments from 21 to 50 per cent. No differences in incidence of goiter were found between males and females in any age range, between Mestizos and Indians in the same locality nor persons living in department capitals and outlying villages. The average incidence of goiter increased with altitude. Endemic goiter is considered to be a serious public health problem in Guatemala and its prophylaxis through the iodization of all salt for human consumption has been approved by the government at a level between 1 part of iodine in 10,000 parts of salt and 1 part in 15,000. Because the salt used is crude and moist and distributed without special packaging, the use of potassium iodate is planned for this purpose.

Author Notes

A cooperative Institute for the study of human nutrition, supported by the governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama and administered by the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization. INCAP Scientific Publication I-48.