The negative health effects of iodine deficiency on health and human development are well documented.1,2,
The effects of mild to moderate deficiency, however, are less well known. Recent research has revealed that some UK populations are now mild to moderately iodine deficient3,4,5,6 and that this level of deficiency may come with risks to child cognitive development.7
This article looks at the importance of iodine sufficiency, particularly for pregnant women. It goes through the importance of iodine to our health, the effects of iodine deficiency and the more recent findings that the UK population is at risk of mild to moderate iodine deficiency with subsequent risks to foetal development.
What is iodine?
Iodine is a mineral, essential to human life. It is found in small amounts in the thyroid gland, and helps make thyroid hormones (thyroxine, T4 and triiodothyroxine, T3), which regulate growth and metabolism.8,9 In foetal life, thyroid hormones are required to ensure the development and growth of organs, particularly development of a baby’s brain before birth and during the critical period of the first two to three years.9