The independent study, conducted by University of Birmingham and the National University of Singapore (NHS), suggests that if pregnant women took regular iodine supplements then the child’s health cost could come down by almost Pounds 200.
The overall savings in the case of every single child could amount to almost Pounds 4,500. The study found that giving iodine supplements to pregnant women could boost the child’s IQ by 1.22 IQ points.
A child with higher IQ will perform better academically and will also have higher earning potential in adult life. Therefore, the child’s reliability on public sector support will also reduce.
However, the reliability of the findings is questionable. For instance, the findings related to IQ have come from observational studies that failed to prove cause and effect.
Iodine deficiency is widespread in African and Asian countries. However, the rate of iodine deficiency in the U.K. is only mild to moderate.
Currently, there is no recommendation in the U.K. for pregnant women to take iodine supplements. It should also not be hard to get the desired requirement from food alone. In fact, taking more than 0.5 mg of iodine can cause potential ill effects.
Primary sources of iodine in the British diet include milk, fish, dairy food and some plant-based cereals. The body needs iodine for making thyroid hormones. Thyroid problems are very common amongst women.
Health guidelines in the U.K. state that adults should have 0.14mg of iodine per day. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 0.25mg per day for expectant mothers.
British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokesperson, Dr. Sarah Bath, said that kelp and seaweed supplements are not recommended. The amount of iodine in them could have potential ill-effects.
The Lancet published a study showing that 67 percent of all British women suffer from a mild to moderate iodine deficiency.
The NHS study concluded that iodine supplementation is suitable for all expectant mothers prior to and during pregnancy. The study also recommended it to breastfeeding mothers who have increased iodine requirement during lactation.