10 pc urban Indians deficient on thyroid hormone: Research

One in every 10 urban Indians is deficient on an essential thyroid hormone, which may silently trigger several diseases among adults, suggests a new research.

A study, conducted on more than 5,300 individuals in eight cities, including Delhi and Bangalore, found 10.95 per cent prevalence of hypothyroidism among adults.

The disorder is linked to several diseases like diabetes, heart disease and infertility.

Moreover, almost 8 per cent of the people screened for the study have sub-clinical thyroid deficiency and stand a chance of developing symptoms later in their lives.

Almost one-third of hypothyroid patients were unaware of their conditions and detected for the first time. Women were three times more prone than men, particularly in the age group of 46-55 years, says the study published in a recent issue of “Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism”.

“There have been no nationwide study on the prevalence of hypothyroidism in India, either in the pre or post-iodization periods.

A large, cross-sectional, comprehensive study was required to provide a true picture of the evolving profile of thyroid disorders across the country as India is in the post-iodization era,” A G Unnikrishnan, lead author of the study and chief executive officer of Chellaram Diabetes Institute, Pune, said.

Iodine deficiency due to insufficient intake of dietary iodine is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide. To counter this, India adopted an universal salt iodization programme in 1983.

But, after three decades, thyroid deficiency continues to be widely prevalent, triggering many other diseases.

“We have an estimated 62 million diabetic and 42 million hypothyroidism patients. Without controlling thyroid problem, diabetes and heart diseases cannot be controlled,” said R K Lalwani, a private doctor associated with Max Hospital, who carried out the Delhi leg of the study.

Delhi statistics were similar to the national trend as 11 per cent people were found short in thyroid level and sub-clinical hypothyroidism was seen in 9.61 per cent people.
The prevalence was marginally less in Bangalore (thyroid deficiency 9.23 per cent) and very high (21 per cent) in Kolkata.

Though India is in the post-iodization phase, the study suggests that prevalence of hypothyroidism in adults is high on a national scale.

Unfortunately, no prevalence data exists on the occurrence of hypothyroidism among adults in the pre-iodization phase.

Globally, thyroid disorders continue to be common yet one of the most under-diagnosed health conditions.

If left untreated, it can cause a host of diseases besides affecting a baby's wellbeing in a pregnant woman.

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