NUTRITION: Iodine deficiency in pregnant women translates to mental retardation in children


Researches have shown that many women are not getting enough iodine in their diet during their pregnancy. Iodine is needed by pregnant women because it is a building block of hormones made in the thyroid gland. These control the way the body uses energy and how it grows. It is particularly important when the brain is developing.

“If a mother is deficient in iodine, the development of vital brain structure is impaired. Iodine deficiency in women translates to mental retardation in children,” Dr. Teofilo L. San Luis, Senior Adviser and Focal Point Person for the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, said.

Dr. San Luis said that the critical period is the first five months of pregnancy. That’s the time when the brain part is being developed. If there is iodine deficiency in the first five months, all  the brain parts become defective.

There is a need then to know where to get iodine.

The main source of iodine is milk. Other dairy products and fish are also great sources of iodine. It is also found in some vitamin and mineral supplements.

The Department of Health says a balanced diet during pregnancy would contain enough iodine.

Researchers said two portions of fish a week and three portions of milk or other dairy products a day would be enough.

The World Health Organization recommends adding iodine to salt as it is a “spectacularly simple, universally effective, wildly attractive and incredibly cheap technical weapon”.#