THAILAND - The number of children with cretinism (thyroid-hormone deficiency resulting in mental stunting) in an Udon Thani tambon has been reduced to zero after every woman was given free iodine-enriched eggs through a pilot project organised by the National Health Security Office (NHSO).
Children who already had the condition have seen improvements in their intelligence levels and muscle strength after receiving the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) with the office's assistance.
Five years ago, it was discovered that 20 children in the tambon had been born with the condition due to the lack of iodine-relevant foods. The NHSO responded with its pilot programme, together with help from the TSH provision project. The condition was eradicated and the general condition of the children improved, said Amnuay Intharathirat, head of Na Phoo Tambon Administrative Organisation in Udon Thani's Phen district.
Under a joint assistance scheme with Kasetsart University and the Department of Medical Sciences, local chicken farms have been provided with cheap enhanced feed that enriches eggs with iodine. The average daily cost of the feed is only Bt1 per hen and provides each household with four eggs to eat each day.
The project manager at Naphoo Hospital, Pannawit Suphaphote, said families were now being supplied with five hens, which ensured that all members, including newborns, children and pregnant women, had sufficient supplies of iodine-enriched eggs to prevent the condition and other iodine deficiency disorders.
The hens also bring in extra income gained through the sale of leftover eggs - of around Bt400 (S$15) per month.