Newswise — The ATA will be offering a translational symposium on the topic of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), which will be presented at its upcoming 78th Annual Meeting in New York. The special symposium will address the current needs and challenges associated with this important health issue and will be held at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers on Sunday, October 7 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon.

"This symposium will outline the global scope of iodine deficiency and the approach to the sustainable elimination of the world's leading cause of preventable mental retardation though universal salt iodination," said Gerard Burrow, MD, who will be moderating the symposium.

Kul C. Gautam, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will be making a special appearance to talk about the sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency.

"If the world's thyroidologists believe that prevention is better than a cure, then they ought to join and lead a global campaign to eliminate iodine deficiency through universal salt iodization," said Mr. Gautam. "Such a campaign is already ongoing and is destined for success in our lifetime. Thanks to the great progress in salt iodization in the past decade, 90 million newborns every year are now protected from hypothyroidism, due to iodine deficiency. If we succeed in iodizing all the world's salt, then we could protect another 30 million newborns. That would be a magnificent triumph for improving the health, learning ability and productivity of future generations."

Elizabeth Pearce, MD, will be discussing iodine associated with pregnancy. "Pregnant women need to increase their dietary iodine intake in order to prevent the development of goiter, obstetric complications, and neurocognitive deficits in their offspring," said Dr. Pearce. "Worldwide iodine deficiency in pregnant women is a major public health problem. There are concerns that some pregnant women in the United States may be at risk for mild to moderate iodine deficiency."

Michael Zimmermann, MD, of the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCDD), will be speaking about the status of worldwide iodine. "Despite remarkable progress in the control of the iodine deficiency disorders, they remain a major global health problem, affecting nearly two million people worldwide," said Dr. Zimmermann. "There have been significant recent advances in assessing the severity of IDD and monitoring progress of salt iodization programs, and this will be the focus of my lecture."

In addition to this special symposium, the ATA is addressing the IDD issue with other initiatives. Dr. Burrow, a member of the ATA Public Health Committee, is chairing a new sub-committee on this global public health issue.

The 78th annual meeting of the ATA will be in New York City from October 3-7, 2007 at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers.

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American Thyroid Association Annual Meeting