Low iodine levels in mothers-to-be can cut child’s IQ

Women with an iodine deficiency in pregnancy are more likely to have children with lower IQs, research suggests.

A study of around 1,000 UK mothers and their children showed low iodine levels could have a negative effect on children’s mental development.

The researchers said the study, published in the Lancet, raises concerns that the iodine levels in pregnant women is a public health issue that needs to be addressed.

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Iodine – consumed mainly through dairy products and seafood – is essential for producing the hormones made by the thyroid gland, which have a direct effect on brain development in the womb.

A group of researchers from Surrey and Bristol universities found that children of women in the iodine-deficient group were significantly more likely to have low scores of verbal IQ, reading accuracy and reading comprehension.

They also found that the lower the mother’s concentration of iodine, the lower were the average scores for IQ and reading ability in the children.

Dr Sarah Bath, a co-researcher and registered dietitian, added: “Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should ensure adequate iodine intake – good dietary sources are milk, dairy products and fish.”