Offering all pregnant women in the UK iodine supplements could provide the NHS with massive savings, according to new research.
The study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, estimated that introducing iodine supplements to pregnant women could save the health service around £200 per expectant mother and around £4500 per child.
The study looked at 1361 published articles on relating to iodine deficiency in pregnant women and the effect on the IQ of their children aged 8 to 9 years.
Results showed that iodine deficiency during pregnancy can lead to a lower IQ in children.
The researchers from the University of Birmingham concluded that iodine supplementation was cost saving from both a health service perspective and a societal perspective.
RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton said that this study supported additional evidence that adequate levels of iodine are required for expectant mothers.
'This paper also models the savings if the effects of low iodine levels on the brain and other development are prevented. One must not forget what lies behind the financial costs of the effects of insufficient iodine during the fetal period, infants, children and adults who fail to meet their cognitive potential,' she said.
'Some pregnancy supplements include iodine but the time is right for all manufactures to include the recommended level of iodine in their formulae,' she said.
The main soure of iodine in a UK diet is milk, other dairy, fish, and some cereals.
The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women take daily iodine supplements. However, as many UK women may only be slightly deficient in iodine this has not become a standard recommendation in the UK.