[Press Release] Saint Lucian children aged 6-12 are the targets of a new regional study,to determine the levels of sodium and iodine in their urine, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has announced.
Saint Lucia is the 6th Caribbean country to take part in the study, which is referred to as the Caribbean Island Urinary Iodine and Salt Survey (CRUISE).
According to District Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Cyr-Philbert, high sodium and low Iodine levels can lead to many complications, especially chronic disease.
She pointed out that high sodium levels are linked to diseases such as high blood pressure, leading to stroke, while low Iodine levels can affect the brain and the children’s ability to learn.
“Of course that can be reversed, so we want to pick up where we are in terms of Iodine levels, sodium levels in our children and know what we need to do about it”, Cyr-Philbert disclosed.
“We’re doing a very small survey for now, we just randomly chose two schools. We are using Carmen Rene and we are using the Micoud Primary, so in total we are going to get urine samples from 200 children. We have seen over the years, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Those are our main causes of death in Saint Lucia and the wider world”, the District Medical Officer stated.
Medicine Professor from Switzerland, Michael Zimmermann, believes it is important to practice proper eating habits from a tender age.
“Food habits are learned early in life, so if a child 6-12 years of age is eating a high salt diet that’s something that they will continue to do for the rest of their life and of course that can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. So the Ministry of Health would like to get an idea of how much salt the children are eating, or what are the main sources of salt in order to develop a program to try to reduce salt intake at this young age and hopefully that will establish healthy life long habits,” Zimmermann observed.
The initiative has been welcomed by the Acting Principal of Carmen Rene Memorial School, Cyiana Norley-George, who asserted that the study is not only beneficial to the students but the communities by extension.
“I think this research project is an excellent opportunity for us as a staff as a school to more less decide on the students in terms of their health benefits that a study of that nature would more less provide”, the Acting Principal noted.
“A project of that nature provides our students with that opportunity to be more informed and you know when you train or teach a child, you more or less train a community, because they go back to their homes and inform their parents of what works and what doesn’t”, Norley-George declared.
The Urine samples will be taken to a lab in Switzerland for testing and the results will be sent to Ministry of Health within two months so that necessary policies and actions will be implemented to address the findings.