Healthy Eating

Mums, are you eating enough iodine?

 Pregnant women damaging baby’s IQ by not eating enough fish and milk
Study reveals 84 per cent of women unaware of importance of iodine during pregnancy and more than half unable to identify iodine-rich foods. Mums to be are not eating enough iodine rich foods such as fish, milk and cheese damaging the IQ of their babies, a new study warned. Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones, crucial for the baby’s brain and nervous system development in the womb and in early childhood. A deficiency has been linked to developmental impairments such as poor intelligence and reading in later childhood.REPERCUSSIONS OF DEFICIENCYSevere lack of iodine is one of the leading causes of brain damage in the developing world but even mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency during pregnancy may be associated with poorer cognitive function in the child.Yet a survey found, although a vast majority of British women were aware of general nutritional recommendations for pregnant women, only an eighth (12 per cent) were aware of iodine-specific advice. Nearly 17 out of 20 (84 per cent) were unaware that iodine from diet is important for the healthy development of the unborn baby, and only a tenth (11 per cent) had heard about iodine from their doctor or midwife.

The University of Glasgow study found three quarters were consuming less than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended intake of 250 micrograms daily with the median intake of iodine during pregnancy just 190 micrograms. However, while the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for adults is 140 ug per day there is no recommendation pregnant or breastfeeding women should take iodine supplements.


And iodine levels are not routinely tested in pregnancy, unlike iron levels. Dr Emilie Combet said: “Iodine is crucial during pregnancy and the first months of life, to ensure adequate brain development, but achieving over 200 ug a day of iodine through diet requires regular consumption of iodine-rich foods such as milk and sea fish. “Women aren’t receiving the message about the importance of iodine in pregnancy, meaning they cannot make informed choices to ensure they get the amount they require.”

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, surveyed 1,026 women. Results found over half (56 per cent) were unable to identify any iodine-rich food and the majority wrongfully believing dark green vegetables and table salt had high levels.


One solution was for it to be added to salt and Dr Combet added: “There is an ongoing debate as to whether there should be some form of fortification of food with iodine.

“Iodine-fortified salt is common in other countries, but using salt as the delivery method has raised concerns since it is perceived to clash with public health messaging around reducing salt intake to combat high blood pressure. “However, other countries have demonstrated that both measures could be held simultaneously. We need to work toward a solution. “The most important issue to come from this study, however, was the lack of awareness of the important role iodine plays in foetal development and how to consume adequate levels of this essential mineral.

“This is something that needs to be addressed.”

– Daily Mirror

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