Iodine Essential for Moms Before Pregnancy

Photo by kourtlynlott via Visual hunt - iodine and motor control
Photo credit: kourtlynlott via VisualHunt

A low iodine intake among pregnant women may be associated with poor language development, reduced fine motor skills and behavioural problems by the age of three, according to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).

The perils of iodine deficiency are not new discoveries – Mother and Child foundation Michael Crawford has covered the topic many times, and it ebbs and flows as a story in the science press with tide-like regularity.

This new research affirms that even relatively low deficiency rates have adverse effects.

“We see an association between low iodine intake and language, fine motor skills and behaviour, but not with gross motor skills or the age when the child starts walking,” says Anne Lise Brantsæter, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. “We already know that severe iodine deficiency in pregnancy is harmful to the foetus but it has been uncertain whether milder deficiency can also have negative consequences.”

Why is Iodine essential?

We need iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which are essential for brain development. The World Health Authority estimates that more than 2 billion people are iodine deficient. Symptoms include goitre, and brain damage.

The MoBa study found that iodine supplements had little effect on the outcome. According to Brantsæter this is because iodine levels need to be maintained before pregnancy – by the time pregnant mothers try to remedy a deficiency, it is already too late to offset the negative impact.

“The results show that it is important for pregnant women to have an adequate iodine intake before they conceive and that iodine supplements in pregnancy cannot compensate for low iodine intake before pregnancy. However, more research is necessary,” concludes Brantsæter.

The research reinforces the findings of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) in 2013.

Read the full story in MedicalXpress here.

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