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Iodine boosts baby’s IQ, cuts healthcare costs

New research puts a dollar value on the effects of iodine deficiency during pregnancy.

Iodine supplements can boost a baby’s IQ and even pregnant women who live in mildly iodine deficient countries could benefit from widespread supplement use, according to a new British study.

"Iodine deficiency in pregnancy remains the leading cause of preventable retardation worldwide. Even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with children with lower IQs," Kate Jolly, a co-author and Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham in the UK, told "It's time for all women living in iodine deficient countries without universal supplementation of iodine, who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy to be advised to take a daily supplement containing iodine."

The research, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, calculated how much a reduced IQ in infancy costs society by affecting health, educational attainment and lifetime earnings of the baby. They found that giving pregnant mothers iodine supplements could save $7,022.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Food Safety Authority have recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a daily iodine supplement, but the warning is not always issued locally in mildly iodine regions such as the U.K. and the U.S.

Iodine deficiency among American pregnant women is on the rise, reports the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Pregnant and lactating women should supplement their diet with a daily multivitamin that contains 150 mcg of iodine, according to a recent article published in Natural Medicine Journal, authored by three CRN scientists.

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