Annals of Human Biology vol:20 issue:2 pages:183-189
In a case-control study all preschool children of 50 villages in an iodine-deficient area in northern Zaire were examined for the absence or presence of a goitre. Children with goitre but without obvious signs of cretinism (cases) were maximally matched with a goitre-free child of the same ethnic group, village, sex and age (controls). Anthropometry of cases and-controls was compared in order to investigate if endemic goitre is associated with any growth impairment. Surprisingly, between ages 2 and 4 years, children with goitre are taller and heavier, and have a smaller triceps skinfold thickness. Arm circumferences did not differ between cases and controls. Stunting is more prevalent in controls. If manifest cretinism is excluded, goitre is not associated with growth retardation. The higher anthropometric figures in goitrous children remain unexplained. In the absence of any data on the hormonal status of these two groups of children, it can only be surmised that, in iodine-deficient areas, some degree of hypothyroidism negatively influencing growth might be more frequent in non-goitrous children than in goitrous ones.