Even minor iodine deficiency during pregnancy has been shown to lower the IQs of babies in ways that can reduce their intellectual abilities as they grow up, new research shows.
The study, published in the Lancet, tracked 1,040 British families and found children born to mothers who had too little iodine while pregnant had lower IQs and reading scores in primary school than kids whose moms had no deficiencies.
The results suggest all women of child-bearing age maintain iodine in their diets by eating dairy products and fish, or taking the right supplements.
David Brownstein, M.D., one of America's foremost holistic doctors, tells Newsmax the findings underscore what health experts have known for many years about the significance of iodine for good health. He adds that the findings should prompt women to seek testing to determine their iodine levels and work with a healthcare specialist to be sure they’re getting enough.
"This is another in a long line of studies going back 50 years that shows iodine is important, and that a mother’s iodine level is important to ensure her baby’s IQ," says Dr. Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It. "We all need adequate levels."
Dr. Brownstein adds that the vast majority of American’s don’t have sufficient levels of iodine.
"I would say it’s the No.1 health problem I see in my practice," he says. "Ninety-five percent of my patients are deficient. You need to have your iodine levels checked, and if you’re deficient … you need to work with a health practitioner to determine the best way to get what you need."
As a component of thyroid hormones, iodine is essential for fetal brain development, experts note. Iodine deficiency was once believed to be a problem primarily in developing nations, but new research has found even people living in the U.S. and other Westernized countries may have deficiencies.
For the latest study, researchers at Surrey and Bristol Universities examined iodine levels in urine samples of pregnant women in England.
The study showed that iodine deficiency affected two-thirds of women and that children born to women with low levels of iodine had slightly lower IQs and had poor reading ability by age 9.
They recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women make sure they are getting 250 micrograms of iodine per day.
The U.S. and other nations have added iodine to salt, but that may not provide enough iodine for everyone, experts say.
"Our results show the importance of adequate iodine status during early gestation and emphasize the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant, even in a country classified as only mildly iodine deficient," the researchers concluded. "Iodine deficiency in pregnant women … should be treated as an important public health issue that needs attention."
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