Hypothyroidism in Switzerland


Hypothyroidism is a condition of mild to severe impairment of physical and mental development due to an untreated deficiency of thyroid hormones. Populations living in iodine deprived areas such as the Himalayas, the Andes, and the European Alps, are most at risk. In the Alpine region of Switzerland endemic hypothyroidism was very common until the beginning of the twentieth century. The aim of this study is to present the theme from three different but complementary perspectives. The medical perspective lays the groundwork regarding the pathophysiology, the clinical picture, and the differential diagnosis of the condition. The historical perspective presents contemporary scientific studies on conscription and published data on goiter and cretinism as endemic manifestations of hypothyroidism (since 1900), and the archaeoanthropological perspective reports one of the first documentations of the condition in an archaeological population from Switzerland (11th–15th century AD).