Saturday, December 16, 2006

New York Times: In Raising the World’s I.Q., the Secret’s in the Salt

New York Times: In Raising the World’s I.Q., the Secret’s in the Salt:

"ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Valentina Sivryukova knew her public service messages were hitting the mark when she heard how one Kazakh schoolboy called another stupid. “What are you,” he sneered, “iodine-deficient or something?”

Ms. Sivryukova, president of the national confederation of Kazakh charities, was delighted. It meant that the years spent trying to raise public awareness that iodized salt prevents brain damage in infants were working. If the campaign bore fruit, Kazakhstan’s national I.Q. would be safeguarded.

In fact, Kazakhstan has become an example of how even a vast and still-developing nation like this Central Asian country can achieve a remarkable public health success. In 1999, only 29 percent of its households were using iodized salt. Now, 94 percent are. Next year, the United Nations is expected to certify it officially free of iodine deficiency disorders. ..."

Columbia Misssouri has been a sister city with Kutaisi, Republic of Georgia for many years, and one of the things that has been done to strengthen those ties is holding salt drives, since they, too, have low natural iodine levels. It is such a simple thing, but it has such far-reaching consequences. Wouldn't it be great if all problems had so simple a solution?

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