The NHS could save money by recommending Iodine supplements to all pregnant women, say researchers.
The Lancet Medical Journal concluded from a study that if all pregnant women took a daily dose, it could boost children’s IQ scores, causing health improvements.
Iodine is important for healthy brain development but there is some evidence to suggest that the UK population is slightly below the recommended levels but Public Health England (PHE) have said that a varied diet should contain enough iodine.
Serious iodine deficiency has been known to cause impaired neurodevelopment in unborn children. Iodine can mainly be found in milk but can also be found in other dairy foods, fish and some plant-made foods such as cereal.
A UK study that was published in 2013, found that of around 1,000 pregnant women, approximately two-thirds could be classed as being mildly or moderately deficient in iodine. Lower levels of iodine during pregnancy have been linked with slightly poorer IQ and reading scores when the children were eight years old.
Their estimates suggest that iodine supplements in pregnancy could increase children’s IQ scores by an average of 1.22 points.
Using evidence from other studies linked to IQ score, it showed an average NHS saving of £199 per pregnant woman.
Using previous research, they also calculated that on average, for every pregnant woman taking the supplement, it would result in £4,476 in higher earnings and lower education costs for her child.
A spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said that kelp and seaweed supplements can contain harmful amounts of iodine so they shouldn’t be used as a source, especially by pregnant women, they and also pointed out that some pregnancy supplements already contain iodine.
UK guidelines recommend that adults need around 0.14mg of iodine per day, while the World Health Organization has advised that pregnant women should have 0.25mg per day.