TASMANIA was taken by surprise in 2000 when research found that iodine levels in school children had slipped for the first time in nearly 50 years from being sufficient to mildly deficient.
Regular monitoring to ensure healthy iodine levels in children had lapsed at the start of the 1990s because of lack of state government funding.
This had happened despite strong campaigning by the small team of medical specialists who had kept watch over the intellectual wellbeing of the community since the 1950s and 1960s.
They knew that the scourge of iodine deficiency community-wide was its effect on the intellectual performances of current and future generations as well as increasing the prevalence of goitres, cancers and conditions like thyroid-related Grave's Disease.
Launceston physician George Vidor had first alerted public health authorities to the medical consequences of Tasmania's iodine- deprived natural environment soon after he arrived as a young doctor.
The campaign to ensure that iodised salt was used in staple foods to correct the imbalance became part of his life's work.
But Menzies Institute research in the late 1990s and 2000 showed that iodine in children had slipped back to a concerning level.
The positive consequence was that Tasmania moved on the public health problem while other states were still discovering that mild iodine deficiency had re-emerged nationally after an absence of almost half a century.
Tasmanian public health and nutrition principal advisor Judy Seal said the government had negotiated with bakers to reintroduce iodised salt in all bread made in the state from 2001 as a consequence of the Menzies research.
It became law federally in 2009 that bread be made with iodised salt.
Work has also continued on getting iodine levels in cleaning agents for milk infrastructure like tankers and vats to an acceptable level.
Ongoing monitoring was re- introduced and showed that within a few years Tasmanian children's iodine levels were back to being sufficient instead of deficient, Ms Seal said.
But public health authorities are still not satisfied the message is getting through to Tasmanian pregnant and breastfeeding women that they need to take a daily iodine supplement to boost levels depleted by their pregnancy for their babies' as well as their own health.
Ms Seal said she would like to see a cheaper supplement available over the counter for women.
"New Zealand is doing that," she said.
"We would go out and actively promote it."
She said it was difficult to find an iodine-only supplement and the combination supplements were often expensive.
Tasmania's thyroid advisory committee, established in Dr Vidor's time in 1968, has been revitalised.
Various thyroid diseases and conditions develop from low iodine levels in the thyroid gland.
Thyroid advisory committee members include Ms Seal and the state's public health director, Roscoe Taylor.