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Have you ever wondered why your table salt is fortified with iodine? It's because iodine deficiency is a global issue that many countries have been fighting for centuries. For many years it was hard to explain the continuum of how iodine deficiency affects the world's populations. With moderate to severe cases showing things such as goiter or appearing in thyroid conditions the research was geared towards severe deficiency, the effects on the thyroid, and how to prevent these from happening. In recent years, research has started looking deeper into what mild to moderate deficiencies may affect...including pregnancy and infant cognitive health.
While iodine deficiencies are most prevalent in developing countries, industrialized countries have also struggled with iodine deficiencies. The main population group that seems to be affected the most are pregnant women, or women of childbearing age, but it has been seen in other populations depending on the food sources available and how the foods is developed.
Iodine and IQ
The continuum, up until severe conditions such as goiter, is seen through IQ and cognitive abilities of children whose mothers were deficient in iodine during their pregnancy.
To show how mild to moderate iodine deficiency affects cognitive ability and IQ, a study was done in the early 1990's by The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). They collected data from pregnant woman who tested iodine deficient according to the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of <150 ug/g creatinine. The study followed the women through pregnancy and then monitored the children's total IQ and reading scores up to age nine. The study concluded that children whose mothers were deficient during pregnancy scored in the lower quartile for both IQ and reading.
Another study showed that 28 weeks of supplementation in older children improved perceptual reason. Supporting the conclusion that iodine does affect cognitive abilities and IQ.