Iodine deficiency on the rise globally: Must focus on natal nutrition, study warns


12 Mar 2018 --- Iodine is an essential nutrient particularly for the neurodevelopment of fetuses. Deficiency at this stage could have negative consequences, a review conducted by the Hospital de Riotinto, Spain and Unversity of Surrey, UK, have shown. The findings are of rising importance as iodine deficiencies are becoming more common, the review suggests.

The review was conducted as a response to growing concerns over substantial levels of iodine deficiencies in industrialized countries. Beforehand, it was largely assumed that iodine deficiencies were only prevalent in certain geographic areas and with particular groups, such as malnourished people.

Iodine is a key nutrient required for the formation of the thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency - a preventable cause of brain damage and impaired development - remains a challenge to lifelong health globally.

The objective of the joint review was to summarize the available evidence from both animal and human studies for the effect of iodine deficiency. The review was particularly in regards to maternal hypothyroxinemia's (which is a subnormal thyroxine concentration in the blood) effect on brain development and neurological or behavioral disorders, such as lower intelligence quotient (IQ) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Key findings
Pregnancy involves a higher demand for thyroid hormones, which may not be adequately met even in healthy pregnant women living in areas where the deficiency is relatively uncommon. 

The findings showed that fetal neurodevelopment is not only affected when the mother is hypothyroid but also when she is “hypothyroxinemic” in the early stages of pregnancy and studies have demonstrated the existence of maternal hypothyroxinemia even in iodine sufficient areas.

Significantly, if transfers of the thyroid hormone from mother to baby are compromised, it can lead to permanent lesions of the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. This can result in post-natal behavioral disorders such as ADHD or autism.

NutritionInsight has previously reported on calls for food items to be fortified with beneficial pregnancy nutrients, such as folic acid. This research is a loud call for more iodine supplementation during pregnancy for all mothers: globally. And importantly, it is a wakeup call to iodine deficiency’s growing presence in industrialized countries.

To contact our editorial team please email us at

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Researchers aim to curb unhealthy weight gain in pregnant women using technological tools

24 Sep 2018 --- With proper nutritional guidance and technological tools, it is safe and feasible to restrict weight gain in obese pregnant women, a Northwestern Medicine study has found. The “novel” study, coined MOMFIT (Maternal Offspring Metabolics: Family Intervention Trial), was the first of its kind to include a commercially available smartphone app in the weight-loss approach, according to the research team.

Health & Nutrition News

Fish-rich diet during pregnancy may boost baby's brain development

21 Sep 2018 --- Regularly eating fatty fish during pregnancy could boost the development of an unborn child's eyesight and brain function, according to a small-scale study led by Kirsi Laitinen of the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland. Published in the journal Pediatric Research, the results support previous findings that show how important a mother's diet and lifestyle choices during pregnancy are for the development of her baby.

Health & Nutrition News

UK yogurt sugar content often well above recommended threshold, survey finds

21 Sep 2018 --- Many yogurts sold in UK supermarkets contain high levels of sugar, a survey published in BMJ has highlighted. Researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Surrey analyzed the product information of 921 yogurts and found that organic yogurts and those marketed towards children, in particular, had high levels of sugar. Fewer than 9 percent of products surveyed contained less than the 5 g of sugar per 100 grams threshold required to be classed “low sugar” and carry a green “traffic light” nutritional label in the UK. As such, reformulation for the reduction of free sugars in yogurts is warranted.

Health & Nutrition News

Weekly Roundup: Fermentalg and DSM partner on omega 3, Curcumin gut health benefits

21 Sep 2018 --- The weekly roundup is NutritionInsight's collection of global nutrition stories from the past week. Fermentalg and DSM Nutritional Products entered a five-year commercial agreement for omega 3 products. Research has found that Sabinsa's curcumin products can have a positive effect on gut health, while analysis highlighted the need for more accurate cranberry authentication tools. Mühlenchemie’s Chinese production facility has been certified to supply fortified foods to the UN World Food Programme.

Health & Nutrition News

Probiotic use associated with fewer antibiotic prescriptions: study

20 Sep 2018 --- Healthy infants and children who take probiotics as a preventative measure receive fewer antibiotic prescriptions, a scientific paper published in European Journal of Public Health reports. The findings are of particular interest considering the growing global demand for ways to reduce antibiotic use, given the urgent public health threat of antibiotic resistance. 

More Articles