Iodine deficiency harms brain development

07 May 2013

Author: Caroline Bergman Hart



A new Menzies Research Institute Tasmania study has found that children who did not receive enough iodine in the womb performed worse on literacy tests as 9-year-olds than their peers.
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In pregnant women, iodine is absorbed from food and plays a key role in their baby’s brain development. “Our research found children may continue to experience the effects of insufficient iodine for years after birth,” said the study’s lead author, Menzies’ research fellow Dr Kristen Hynes.

“Although the participants’ diet was fortified with iodine during childhood, later supplementation was not enough to reverse the impact of the deficiency during the mother’s pregnancy.”

The longitudinal study, in partnership with the University of Tasmania, examined standardised test scores of 228 children whose mothers attended The Royal Hobart Hospital’s antenatal clinics between 1999 and 2001. The children were born during a period of mild iodine deficiency in the population. Conditions were reversed when bread manufacturers began using iodised salt in October 2001 as part of a voluntary iodine fortification program.

Read the Chicago Tribune coverage here