-- Alan Mozes
THURSDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mild to moderate iodine
deficiency during pregnancy may have a negative long-term impact on
children's brain development, British researchers report.
Low levels of the so-called "trace element" in an expectant
mother's diet appear to put her child at risk of poorer verbal and
reading skills during the preteen years, the study authors found.
Pregnant women can boost their iodine levels by eating enough dairy
products and seafood, the researchers suggested.
The finding, published online May 22 in
The Lancet, stems from an analysis of roughly 1,000
mother-child pairs who were tracked until the child reached the age
of 9 years.
"Our results clearly show the importance of adequate iodine status during early pregnancy, and emphasize the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant," study lead author Margaret Rayman, of the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, said in a journal news release.
The study authors explained that iodine is critical to the
thyroid gland's hormone production process, which is known to have
an impact on fetal brain development.
According to the World Health Organization, iodine "sufficiency"
is defined as having a so-called iodine-to-creatinine ratio of 150
micrograms per gram (mcg/g) or more; those with a ratio falling
below 150 mcg/g are deemed to be iodine "deficient."
By examining first-trimester urine sample data collected by a
long-term study of parents and children based in Bristol, England,
the study authors found that just over two-thirds of the mothers
had been iodine-deficient while pregnant.
After adjusting for other factors (such as breast-feeding
history and parental education), the researchers found that iodine
deficiency during pregnancy raised the child's risk for having a
lower verbal IQ, and poorer reading accuracy and comprehension by
the time they turned 8 or 9.
What's more, the more iodine levels dropped during pregnancy,
the lower the child's performance in terms of IQ and reading
ability, the study authors noted.
Study co-author and registered dietitian Sarah Bath agreed that
"pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should ensure
adequate iodine intake." She suggested in the news release that
"good dietary sources are milk, dairy products and fish. . . . Kelp
supplements should be avoided as they may have excessive levels of
The U.S. National Institutes of Health states that 3 ounces of
baked cod contains approximately 99 mcg of iodine, 1 cup of plain
low-fat yogurt contains about 75 mcg, and 1 cup of reduced-fat milk
has an estimated 56 mcg.
For more on iodine, visit the
U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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