Iodine is found to affect foetal brain development

22 May 2013

Mothers-to-be must make sure they get enough iodine, as new healthcare research has revealed that the substance is ‘vital for the baby’s future brain power’.

The study, conducted by experts from Surrey and Bristol universities, has found a direct link between iodine deficiencies and lowered IQs. Researchers suggest that the mother’s hormone production, which is reliant on iodine intake, affects foetal brain development. Children who were exposed to iodine deficiencies had low scores of reading comprehension, accuracy and verbal IQs, while those with a sufficient amount of the mineral (according to international standards) performed significantly better.

Lead researcher, Margaret Rayman said: "Our results clearly show the importance of adequate iodine status during early pregnancy, and emphasise the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant, even in a country classified as only mildly iodine deficient."

According to the study, as many as 67 per cent of pregnant women are iodine deficient. To boost iodine intake, mothers-to-be should consume more dairy products and fish. One-off mineral tests will assess whether or not the deficiency is severe enough to warrant supplements. However, pregnant women should avoid kelp supplements, as experts warn that they contain excessive levels of iodine.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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