Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 991–996 | Cite as

Normal values for thyroid ultrasonography, goiter prevalence and urinary iodine concentration in schoolchildren of the Veneto Region, Italy

  • B. Busnardo
  • D. Nacamulli
  • F. Frigato
  • A. Vianello-Dri
  • D. De Vido
  • C. Mian
  • F. Candiani
  • G. Tomasella
  • L. Zambonin
  • M. Piccolo
  • M. E. Girelli
Original Article


Goiter prevalence in school-age children and median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) are the main indicators of iodine deficiency in a population. In areas of mild iodine deficiency, where goiters are small, ultrasound is preferable to physical examination to estimate goiter prevalence. The World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted thyroid volume ultrasonography results from a survey of European schoolchildren as an international reference, but these values have recently been questioned. The aims of the study were: a) to determine regional normal echo-graphic reference values of thyroid volume in children aged between 11 and 14 yr in the Veneto Region, in North-East Italy; b) to determine goiter prevalence by physical and ultrasonographic examination; c) to determine UIC in this section of the population. A cross-sectional study was carried out on 1730 schoolchildren, aged between 11 and 14, living in towns in low-lying areas, in the valleys of the pre-Alps and in the mountains between 600 and 1200 m. Thyroid volume was evaluated by inspection and palpation using the WHO criteria. In 560 children thyroid volume was determined by ultrasound. UIC was measured in 1368 children. On physical examination a grade I goiter was found in 7.5% of children. No goiter grade II or grade III was found. The regional thyroid volume reference values by ultrasonography were similar, or slightly lower (5–20%), to the corresponding WHO reference values. Mean UIC was 148±110 μg/l, with no difference between lowlands and uplands; UIC values less than 100 μg/l were found in about 30–35% of the children. UIC was higher in children using iodized salt than in non-users. No correlation was found between thyroid volume by ultrasonography and UIC. Thyroid volume was found to be bigger in upland children than in those in low-lying areas, probably because of low iodine intake in people living in the mountains in previous generations. This data show that Veneto is not a iodine-deficient area, with no presence of endemic goiter. However, the great number of children with a UIC of less than 100 μg/l also suggests the use of iodized salt in the Veneto Region.


Thyroid volume goiter urinary iodine ultrasonography iodized salt 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Busnardo
    • 1
  • D. Nacamulli
    • 1
  • F. Frigato
    • 4
  • A. Vianello-Dri
    • 5
  • D. De Vido
    • 1
  • C. Mian
    • 1
  • F. Candiani
    • 2
  • G. Tomasella
    • 3
  • L. Zambonin
    • 1
  • M. Piccolo
    • 1
  • M. E. Girelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical and Surgical SciencesEndocrinology UnitPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity of PaduaVicenzaItaly
  3. 3.Division of RadiologyPaduaItaly
  4. 4.VeniceItaly
  5. 5.Division of Nuclear MedicineVicenzaItaly

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