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Effect of Iodine Deficiency on Academic Performance of School Children in Dawro Zone, Southwest Ethiopia: A Prospective Cohort Study

Authors Asfaw A, Belachew T

Received 21 April 2020

Accepted for publication 31 July 2020

Published 24 August 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 157—166


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Chandrika Piyathilake

Agize Asfaw,1 Tefera Belachew2

1Department of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Wolkite University, Gubre, Ethiopia; 2Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Public Health and Medical Sciences, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia

Correspondence: Agize Asfaw
Department of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Wolkite University, PO Box 07, Gubre, Ethiopia
Tel +251 911542030

Background: The most visible effect of iodine deficiency (ID) is goiter, but the worst and much greater public health problem is its impact on the developing brain. Despite relatively increased attention to the consequences of ID on physical health, there are only a few studies on the influence of ID on schooling in Ethiopia. The main objective of this study was to determine the effect of chronic ID on academic performance of school children in southwest Ethiopia.
Methods: This study was conducted on 652 schoolchildren selected from six primary schools in southwest Ethiopia. Using prospective cohort study design, 362 iodine-deficient and 290 iodine-sufficient children were followed for the difference in academic grade scores for a period of 18 months.
Results: Average grade score of children for both groups was 72.5%. Among iodine-deficient children, about two-thirds (65.8%) performed below the mean grade score (χ2 (df), 46.86 (1), p< 0.001). Both school absenteeism and dropout from school were significantly higher for iodine-deficient children. For example, for a single day’s absence from a class, the average grade score declined by 1.1 points (β=− 1.10, 95% CI, − 1.52, − 0.70).
Conclusion: Despite the efforts made by the Ethiopian government on universal salt iodization and other iodine deficiency disorder prevention programs for the last decade, many south Ethiopian children were unable to utilize their full academic potential due to chronic iodine deficiency.
Trial Registration: PACTR201809544276357 (, Registered September 14, 2018.

Keywords: academic performance, grade scores, iodine deficiency, school absenteeism, southwest Ethiopia

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