OBJECTIVES: (i) To assess the severity of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), (ii) to determine the aetiology of IDD in Gujarat, (iii) to identify the best prevalence indicator of IDD, and (iv) to compare thyroid volume (TV) results with the WHO International reference. METHODS: Five hundred and thirty schoolchildren (6-15 years) were studied from two districts (Baroda and Dang) and data were collected on dietary habits and parameters such as height, weight, thyroid size by palpation and ultrasonography, urinary iodine (UI), and blood thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Drinking water was analyzed for iodine content and food articles for goitrogens. RESULTS: In Gujarat children median UI (interquartile range)=56 (30-96)microg/l, mean TSH=1.71 +/- 2.10mU/l, goiter by palpatio n = 30%, and median TV = 27.8 (23-35)ml. Females had lower median UI (48 (27-82) microg/l) and higher mean TSH levels (2.0 +/- 2.5mU/l) than males. Applying the WHO ultrasonography reference to Gujarat children resulted in an enlarged TV-for-body surface area in almost 100% of subjects. Ninety-nine percent of females and 95% of males had enlarged TV-for-age. Three to eight times larger TV were seen in all subjects as compared with European children. Dang children were severely malnourished. Flavonoids like vitexin, glucosyl vitexin and apigenin were detected in pearl millet. Apigenin was never identified in pearl millet. Dang district water was lacking in iodine content. CONCLUSIONS: IDD is a severe public health problem in Gujarat. Baroda district is a new pocket of IDD. High amounts of dietary flavonoids in Baroda and Dang districts, and lack of iodine in Dang water, account for IDD. TV measurement by ultrasound is the best prevalence indicator of IDD.