Show Navigation


Re-emergence of Moderate Iodine Deficiency in Developed Countries

Iodine is essential for producing the hormones made by the thyroid gland, which have a direct effect on fetal brain development. Although the potentially harmful effects of severe iodine deficiency on brain development are well-established, until now very few studies have examined the effect of mild or moderate iodine deficiency during pregnancy on a child’s cognitive development.

The results of a new study published this month in The Lancet found that children of women who have lower levels of iodine during early pregnancy, have lower scores in their neurocognitive testing. The study showed that iodine deficiency was common – affecting two-thirds of women. Their children went on to have slightly lower IQs at the age of eight and worse reading ability aged nine. In terms of IQ, the researchers found a three-point IQ difference between children who were born to mothers with low iodine in early pregnancy and children who were born to mothers above the cut-off.

An accompanying commentary calls for greater public health policies to eradicate iodine deficiency in the U.K. and other developed countries. The authors commented that in the U.K. there is limited consumption of iodised salt (sea salt, kosher salt and most processed food contain no iodine) or other iodine sources. Further, there are few recommendations to women to take extra iodine during pregnancy and many of the prenatal vitamins do not contain iodine.

With this study, it’s clear that women should be taking prenatal vitamins with iodine and asking their physicians for them“ said Stagnaro-Green.

My view on this is that eating foods rich in iodine enhances your body’s usage of this important mineral since these foods naturally contain other nutrients which act in synergy with iodine, supporting its physiological function in your body and therefore contributing to your optimal health. The best sources of iodine are sea vegetables such as kelp, other than this and iodised salt, the next best sources are eggs and cows milk products, followed by fish and poultry. For vegetarians, strawberries and bread also contain decent levels of iodine.

Stagnaro-Green A & Pearce E N. Iodine and pregnancy: a call to action. The Lancet, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60717-5

Bath S C et al. Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The Lancet, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60436-5

Categories: Nutritional News, Hormonal Health, Children's Health