Importance of iodine during pregnancy

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When a pregnant woman doesn't have enough iodine in her body, her child may suffer irreversible brain damage and could have an IQ that is 10 to 15 points lower than it would otherwise be.

Almost one-third of the world’s population does not get enough iodine from food and water.

In extreme cases this results in large  result in  large goiters that swell necks, or impairments such as dwarfism or cretinism. But far more common is mental slowness.

Thankfully iodine deficiency is not a huge medical problem in Singapore

The need for iodine during pregnancy

In pregnancy, iodine helps your baby’s brain and nervous system develop. “When a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough iodine in her body, her child may suffer irreversible brain damage and could have an IQ that is 10 to 15 points lower than it would otherwise be. An educated guess is that iodine deficiency results in a needless loss of more than 1 billion IQ points around the world,” explains Nicholas Kristoff in a column for The New York Times.

A lack of iodine during pregnancy has also been linked with an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and stillbirth.

According to the WHO, Pregnant women need about 66% more iodine than non-pregnant women. It is recommended that a pregnant woman has about 220 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per day.

Food sources of iodine

strawberry

In general, foods from the sea contain the most iodine, followed by animal foods, and then plant foods. Vegetables like artichokes, potatoe and spinach and fruits like pineapple, coconut, strawberries, rhubarb, mango, dates and apricots are also reliable sources of iodine.

Too much iodine can be bad for you.

Before you go out and stock up on all foods rich in iodine, do note that over consumption of it can be just as damaging as a deficiency. Too much Iodine in a day can cause irritations like burning of the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, and in extreme cases coma.

To read more about Iodine deficiencies and it’s link to IQ, check out the New York Times Open Ed

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