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Low Prenatal Iodine May Affect Child's Brain Development
Date:5/23/2013

THURSDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mild to moderate iodine deficiency during pregnancy may have a negative long-term impact on children's brain development, British researchers report.

Low levels of the so-called "trace element" in an expectant mother's diet appear to put her child at risk of poorer verbal and reading skills during the preteen years, the study authors found. Pregnant women can boost their iodine levels by eating enough dairy products and seafood, the researchers suggested.

The finding, published online May 22 in The Lancet, stems from an analysis of roughly 1,000 mother-child pairs who were tracked until the child reached the age of 9 years.

"Our results clearly show the importance of adequate iodine status during early pregnancy, and emphasize the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant," study lead author Margaret Rayman, of the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, said in a journal news release.

The study authors explained that iodine is critical to the thyroid gland's hormone production process, which is known to have an impact on fetal brain development.

According to the World Health Organization, iodine "sufficiency" is defined as having a so-called iodine-to-creatinine ratio of 150 micrograms per gram (mcg/g) or more; those with a ratio falling below 150 mcg/g are deemed to be iodine "deficient."

By examining first-trimester urine sample data collected by a long-term study of parents and children based in Bristol, England, the study authors found that just over two-thirds of the mothers had been iodine-deficient while pregnant.

After adjusting for other factors (such as breast-feeding history and parental education), the researchers found that iodine deficiency during pregnancy raised the child's risk for having a lower verbal IQ, and poorer reading accuracy and comprehension by the time they turned 8 or 9.

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